Monday, February 8, 2010

The Return of...Black Diva History Month, Part 2 (1930-1940)

Continuing my "rebroadcast" from last year. Please note that the divas are listed in chronological birth order, not in order of their career starts.Here's a dozen more great ladies of song and screen.Dakota Staton (Aliyah Rabia 1930-2007) was an jazz vocalist who found fame and acclaim with the 1957’s gorgeous The Late, Late Show. One of my favorite LPs for all time.Nina Simone (Eunice Kathleen Waymon 1933-2003) was a Grammy Award-nominated jazz singer, folk songwriter, classical pianist, arranger and civil rights activist. Her work covers an eclectic variety of musical styles including soul, R&B, gospel, and pop music. Known as The High Priestess of Soul, she recorded her last album – the amazing A Single Woman in 1993.
Della Reese (Born 1931), is an actress and singer. She started her career in the late 1950s as a pop singer, best known for her 1959 hit single Don't You Know which was adapted from an aria (Muzetta's Waltz) from Puccini's La Boheme. She subsequently became an actress, best known for the long-running CBS hit TOUCHED BY AN ANGEL.
Barbara McNair (1934-2007) was an sadly underrated singer and actress. In 1969 alone she hosted her own syndicated variety hour, starred alongside Mary Tyler Moore and Elvis in CHANGE OF HABIT (1969) and had a role in the sexy Italian film VENUS IN FURS, directed by Jesus Franco. The following year she portrayed Sidney Poitier's wife in They Call Me MISTER Tibbs! (1970). Ms. McNair continued performing into the 2000s, until her tragic death in 2007.
Ketty Lester (Revoyda Frierson, born 1934) is a singer and television actress, who is best known for her classic 1962 hit single, Love Letters - used effectively in David Lynch's cult classic BLUE VELVET. Lester would later establish herself as a fine actress in the 1970s and 1980s. Appearing on two NBC shows, DAYS OF OUR LIVES from 1975 to 1977, and as Hester-Sue on LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE from 1978 to 1983.
Diahann Carroll (Born 1935) is an award-winning actress and songstress. Carroll's first film role was in CARMEN JONES in 1954, followed by the film version of Gershwin's PORGY AND BESS. Carroll is best known for her Emmy-nominated title role in the 1968 show JULIA in 1968. In the 1980s, Carroll joined ABC’s megahit DYNASTY as the jet setter, Dominique Deveraux, half-sister of Blake Carrington. She is still very active in showbiz.
Dame Shirley Veronica Bassey (born 1937) is a British singer most known for performing three James Bond themes GOLDFINGER (1964), DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971), and MOONRAKER (1979). Ms. Bassey celebrated her 60th birthday by recording the hit History Repeating with The Propellerheads. This led to the 2001 album, The Remix Album: Diamonds Are Forever. In 2008 the song Goldfinger was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Seeing her perform live in San Francisco is one of the most memorable evenings in my life. (Editor's note: Shirley recently appeared on THE GRAHAM NORTON SHOW and was as entertaining and lovely as ever).
Roberta Flack (born 1937) is a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter and musician who is notable in the areas of jazz, soul, R&B and folk. Flack is best known for singles such as Killing Me Softly with His Song, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, Where Is the Love and The Closer I Get to You (two of her many duets with Donny Hathaway), and Feel Like Makin' Love.
Nancy Wilson (born 1937) is a Grammy-winning song stylist. She is known as both "Fancy Miss Nancy”. Her 1962 album with Cannonball Adderly is a all time classic. She can be heard weekly on the long-running radio show, JAZZ PROFILES, on NPR.
Etta James (Jamesetta Hawkins, born 1938) is an blues, soul, R&B, rock & roll, gospel and jazz singer and songwriter. James is the winner of four Grammys and was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame both in 1999 and 2008. She is best known for the song At Last. I have seen Etta perform at least a half-dozen times and she never ceases to entertain and amaze me.
Tina Turner (Anna Mae Bullock, born 1939) is an singer and actress whose career has spanned over 40 years and who has won numerous awards. She has been referred to as "The Queen of Rock 'n' Roll". I’ve seen her perform live on several occasions, and am always blown away by her energy. Oddly, I have never seen her big screen bio, WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT?Dionne Warwick (Marie Dionne Warrick, born 1940), is singer best known for her partnership with songwriters and producers Burt Bacharach and Hal David. She also teamed with Barry Manilow for some memorable hits. Dionne is second only to Aretha Franklin as the female vocalist with the most Billboard Hot 100 chart hits during the rock era (1955-1999). No need to mention her acting in RENT A COP alongside Burt Reynolds and Liza or the Psychic Friends Network. Oh, I guess I just did.

Look for Part 3 soon.

1 comment:

Dan said...

thanks for all your tributes here - terrific selections.