Document Records - Vintage Blues and Jazz

Josephine Baker CDs

Document Records have 1 Josephine Baker CD in it's back catalogue. If you wish to buy the Josephine Baker CD please click the link below.

Josephine Baker Complete Recorded Works
1926 ~ 1927 In Chronological Order

Josephine Baker was born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, on June 3, 1906. Her mother, Carrie McDonald was a washerwoman and
her father, Eddie Carson a vaudville drummer. Her early life was taken up by a whole host of odd jobs which included cleaning houses and baby sitting for wealthy white families and waitressing.
In 1919 Josephine toured the United States accompanying The Jones Family and The Dixie Steppers, performing various comic routines. When the tour ended she decided to audition as a a chorus girl in Sissle and Blake's production Shuffle Along. She was apparently rejected for being "too skinny and too dark." Undetered by this set back, she learn't the chorus routine whilst being employed as a dresser. When a dancer left the production, Josephine was the obvious replacement and on stage she used her experience in comedy to great effect, rolling her eyes and acting clumsy. The audiences loved the touch of comedy that she brought to the routines and she became a box office draw for the rest of the show's run.
In 1925 Josephine travelled to Paris to star in a new show called La Revue Nègre. This proved to be the turning point of her career.
Josephine had a dance partner, Joe Alex, and together they captivated the audience with the Danse Sauvage. Everything about the routine was new and exotic, Josephine was dressed in nothing apart from a feather skirt and with the uninhibited movements of her body she worked the audience into a frenzy. She became an overnight success and went on to tour the rest of Europe with the show.
When she returned to Paris it was in a new show, La Folie du Jour for the Folies Bergère. In this she performed a jaw dropping dance in a skirt made of 16 bananas, often accompanied by her pet leopard, Chiquita, who was adorned with a diamond collar. Paris society was integrated at this time and Josephine became a star, rivaling the likes of Gloria Swanson and Mary Pickford as the most photographed woman in the world. By 1927 she was the most highly paid entertainer in Europe. In the early thirties she starred in 2 movies, Zou-Zou and Princess
She returned to the United States in 1936 to star in the Ziegfeld Follies. Yet despite the fact that she was a major celebrity in France, this mean't nothing to a segregated America, whose audiences (presumably white) rejected the idea of a black woman with so much power and sophistication. The newspaper reviews were equally as scathing, one critic in The New York Times refering to her as a "Negro wench".
Josephine was heartbroken by the responce to her show and returned to Europe.
By now the threat of war loomed large over Europe and Josephine could be found performing for the French troops and later becomming an honorable correspondent for the French Resistance, smuggling secret messages written on her music sheets. She was later awarded the Medal of the Resistance with Rosette and named a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the French government for hard work and dedication.
In the 50s and 60s, though still based in France, Josephine visited the States where she supported American Civil Rights Movement. When New York's popular Stork Club refused her service, she engaged a head-on media battle with pro-segregation columnist Walter Winchell. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) named May 20 Josephine Baker Day in honor of her efforts. During this time she began to form a family, adopting twelve multi-ethnic orphans, which she called her "Rainbow Tribe", to show that children of different ethnicities and religions could still be brothers and sisters. Josephine had only one child of her own, stillborn in 1941, an incident that precipitated an emergency hysterectomy. Whilst on tour in the States she refused to perform in segregated nightclubs and her insistence on mixed audiences helped to integrate shows in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Shortly after this time her career was on a downward turn and she was saved from bankruptcy by her close friend Princess Grace of Monaco, another expatriate American living in Europe. She continued to travel to the States and developed a close relationship with American artist Robert Brady and in 1973 they exchanged marriage vows. That same year she agreed to perform at New York's Carnegie Hall but was understandibly nervous about the reception that she would get. Racial equality had by this time improved and she received a standing ovation
before the concert had even begun.
In 1975 Josephine premiered at the Bobino Theatre in Paris. Amongst the celebrities in the audience were Princess Grace of Monaco and Sophia Loren and the 68 year old Josephine performed routines from her 50 year career. The reviews for this show were some of the best ever. A few days later Josephine slipped into a coma and on April 12th she died from a cerebral hemorrhage.
More than 20,000 people lined the streets of Paris to pay their last respects as the funeral cortege made it's way to The Church Of Madeleine. The French government honored her with a 21-gun salute, making Josephine Baker the first American woman buried in France with military honors. Her gravesite is in the Cimetiére de Monaco, Monaco.
Josephine Baker Picture Gallery.
Biog with links.
Official site with biog, pictures and lots more.



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