Tag: Ella Fitzgerald

Jazzing up the 1920s: Harley Foxx

Jazzing up the 1920s: Harley Foxx

FB: Harley Foxx
IG: harleyfoxxburlesque

Hello friends,

As you know, we are taking Decadent: 100 Years of Burlesque to Boston next month, so we thought we’d take a moment to introduce you to the fabulous performers who will be joining us.

First up, meet Harley Foxx, who will rep the 1920s. This swing and jazz aficionado shares some of her favorite things about this glamorous decade, including her love for the iconic Josephine Baker.

1. What is your favorite thing about the 1920s?
My favorite thing about this era is defined by the music and the dancing. My mother used to play Duke Ellington and Count Basie records, and she sang Billie Holiday around our house. As I got older I started swing dancing and it became even more infused into my soul.

I really love listening to “hot jazz” music, and those old syncopated rhythms. I have gradually been building this collection of swing music and I am totally amazed and humbled by the never-ending wealth of great music just waiting to be heard.

But aside from that, as a DJ I like to play whatever I think will keep people dancing – whether it’s chunky, up-tempo, or even contemporary swing. Some of my favorite artists include the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, Chick Webb, Django Reinhardt, Mildred Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Fats Waller (of course), Bob Crosby, as well as Wingy Manone. My love for both the music and dance are something that I try to share with everyone in my life.

Photo: Veronica Tays

2. If you could have drinks/dinner with any person from that era, real or fictional, who would it be?
I would love to sit down with the great Josephine Baker.

She had an independent spirit and had to learn to provide for herself and make her own way. This free and bold behavior led her to perform across the country and eventually she was able to sashay away to the Paris stage during the 1920s.

She was confident in her abilities and performed with a comic, yet sensual appeal that took Europe by storm. She had a perfect blend and I try to embody her character and flair in some of my pieces. Baker went on to perform and choreograph for 50 years in Europe.

Although racism in the States often restricted her from gaining the same fame at home as she did abroad, Baker fought segregation through organizations like NAACP. I would love to chat with her about where we are now in entertainment, burlesque and politics. Things are different from the 1920’s but I definitely feel like she would be a great mentor and be able to offer some insight and guidance.

Photo: Mandi Martini

3. Is there anyone from today you think embodies the idea of the 1920s?
Beyoncé is a great pop superstar who isn’t afraid of celebrating black brilliance and has often given nods to the black women performers who’ve inspired her. Beyoncé has paid tribute to Tina Turner and in 2006, she celebrated Jospehine Baker.

Beyoncé’s affinity for Baker comes as no surprise. Baker’s control of her art and her image were unprecedented for her time. Baker, a black woman beloved by white audiences, built her name by working within the status quo to transgress social boundaries. In her later life she became a civil rights activist.

Beyoncé does the same. Beyonce has also been able to navigate a space that tended to exclude (or at the very least limit) black women for a long time. Mainstream music and pop music specifically. Her album Formation made a lot of people realize how political and “woke” Beyoncé is. But she has always given nods in her music and videos on where she stands, her support to the artists who came before her, and her black culture.

Josephine baker and Beyoncé are two artists I love and admire and the fact it’s their blackness that makes them unique. I have found I don’t have to separate the blackness from the art. If you want to participate, indulge, be entertained, you must acknowledge black lives and black issues in the process. That is what they do and what I hope to do too.

Come see Harley and the rest of our magical lineup on October 7 at The Rockwell, 255 Elm Street, Somerville, MA, 02144. Doors open at 9:30. A portion of proceeds will benefit The Hispanic Federation to help with hurricane and earthquake relief.

READ MORE ABOUT THE 1920s HERE.

 

Music Movie Monday: Big Bands and Film Noir – the ’40s

Music Movie Monday: Big Bands and Film Noir – the ’40s

Music

With the Depression over, people began returning to the dance halls and the era of Big Band Swing was underway. The top dogs in the field were Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw.

Glenn Miller Orchestra
Benny Goodman
Artie Shaw

Glenn Miller was killed while en route to a USO show when his plane crashed into the English Channel, and his death is considered the end of the Big Band Era.

With the close of the swing era, we see the emergence of  bebop and jump blues, two forms of up-tempo jazz. As the decade rolled on, jazz and blues began to make their way into the mainstream, with such singers as Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald reaching national prominence.

Ella Fitzgerald
Billie Holiday

“Crooners,” such as Bing Crosby were in vogue and by the end of the decade, Frank Sinatra would become the first teen idol.

Bing Crosby

Crosby’s 1942 “White Christmas” is the best-selling single of all time, with an estimated 50+ million copies sold worldwide.

Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra

Singing cowboys were also a thing, with Gene Autry among the most famous of these.

Gene Autry

Movies

After a rough start in the early ’40s because of the war and loss of foreign markets, the movie industry rebounded and by 1946 was at peak profitability.

You can’t talk ’40s film without Casablanca, the 1942 romance starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. The movie won Oscars for Best Film, Best Screenplay and Best Director, and gave us such classic lines as “Here’s looking at you, kid,” “Round up the usual suspects,” and “We’ll always have Paris.”

Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca

Another hallmark of ’40s film was film noir, literally “black film,” which evolved from ’30s gangsters movies and reflected a darker and more cynical mood among the country. Film noir features ominous plots, fatalistic heroes and dangerous femmes fatales (shoutout!). The first definitive example of this genre was The Maltese Falcon, starring Humphrey Bogart as hard-boiled detective Sam Spade and was directed by John Huston in his directorial debut.

Bogart, Peter Lorre, Mary Astor and Sidney Greenstreet in The Maltese Falcon

On a more optimistic note, the films of Frank Capra idealized the underdog and the triumph of the “common man.” The most “Capraesque” of his movies is 1946 holiday feature It’s a Wonderful Life, starring James Stewart and Donna Reed.

And finally, there’s Orson Welles’ 1941 Citizen Kane, which has been called the most influential movie of all time. The film is renowned for its cinematography, innovative plot structure and memorable musical score. Stanley Kubrick, Sydney Pollack and Woody Allen are among the filmmakers who list Citizen Kane as one of the best movies of all time.

So there you have an overview of music and films of the 1940s. If you want to read more, check out the sites below.

filmsite.org
Wikipedia
retrowaste.com

As always, thanks for reading, and have a great day!

xoxo