Florence Mills: Harlem Jazz Queen

Florence Mills: Harlem Jazz Queen

by Bill Egan
     
 

This biography reveals the lost history of the life of Florence Mills, who was very famous during the 1920s, and traces her story from childhood to her untimely death at age 31. Mills who was probably the first black female international superstar, was lionized by crowned heads in Europe and described by English show business impresario C.B. Cochran as "one of the

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Overview

This biography reveals the lost history of the life of Florence Mills, who was very famous during the 1920s, and traces her story from childhood to her untimely death at age 31. Mills who was probably the first black female international superstar, was lionized by crowned heads in Europe and described by English show business impresario C.B. Cochran as "one of the greatest artists that ever walked on to a stage." Although her career and shows changed the nature of black entertainment, and thereby the wider American popular culture, she was largely forgotten in later years. An additional theme of the book is the important but little-known associations Florence Mills had in the early world of jazz and ragtime, and her innovative influence on important aspects of jazz singing. It explores the connections between her and Duke Ellington, who dedicated his outstanding composition "Black Beauty" to her. Will be of interest to librarians, jazz fans, especially those interested in Duke Ellington, and anyone interested in the history of musical theater.

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Editorial Reviews

CHOICE
The book is methodically researched and carefully documented, using primary source material that has only recently become available; the latter includes numerous interviews with Mills and her husband. A fine addition to the "Studies in Jazz" series, this well-written biography provides rich insights into an important figure in American music. Recommended.
The Rawsistaz Reviewers
Suffice it to say that there are few individuals who have ever heard of Florence Mills, and that includes some resolute jazz enthusiasts. But through much persistence Bill Egan has changed that and has illuminated our awareness of this entertainment legend....Harlem Jazz Queen explores the association between Florence and the early beginnings of jazz and ragtime, her keen intelligence and strong social conscience, and her phenomenal success as the first black international female superstar. It also documents her association with classical music with noted composers William Grant Still and Constant Lambert. This is a history that was too long coming, but one that will captivate and enlighten readers.
Ellingtonia
Welcome addition to the jazz canon...Mills' artistic contributions come to life again in Bill Egan's prose....documenting this entertainer par excellence...Egan also provides the reader with an always important historical context.
Jazz Uk Magazine
Elegantly written and illustrated, this fascinating volume, ten years in the making, is a worthy addition to Scarecrow's 'Studies in Jazz' series and a fine read at that.
Reference and Research Book News
As the first black female international superstar, jazz singer Florence Mills (1896-1927) changed the nature of black entertainment and opened doors for generations of performers. This text considers her influence on some important aspects of jazz singing and describes her connections with Duke Ellington. Independent scholar Egan concludes by examining Mills' association with classical music through composers William Grant Still and Constant Lambert.
The Bookwatch
...a unique biography of the African American entertainer of the 1920s from childhood to her death at age 31.
The Jazz Rag
Florence Mills, who died tragically young in 1927, was undoubtedly the most influential female black entertainer of her day...Bill Egan's deeply rewarding book reflects his 10 years work by taking us through her life and career in meticulous detail...organised with clarity in an easy straightforward style.
The Irish Echo
...this well written and comprehensive biography will be an invaluable reference as well as paying tribute to an extraordinary performer.
Qbr The Black Book Review
Recommended.
— Max Rodriguez

The Jazz Gazette
This is undeniably the best book on jazz I have ever read.
All About Jazz
Bill Egan's excellent new biography Florence Mills: Harlem Jazz Queen brings this crucial figure back to life, showing her important role in jazz and indeed African-American history....Egan skillfully interweaves Mills' personal journey with historical background, showing the vitality and rough edges in this rich period of early jazz....thanks goodness for Egan, whose ten years of meticulous, tenacious research has at last given Mills a proper biography....the book's rich selection of photographs shows Mills shining with a vitality that's inspiring even eight decades after her death.
Choice
The book is methodically researched and carefully documented, using primary source material that has only recently become available; the latter includes numerous interviews with Mills and her husband. A fine addition to the "Studies in Jazz" series, this well-written biography provides rich insights into an important figure in American music. Recommended.
QBR: The Black Book Review
Recommended.
— Max Rodriguez
Eric Washington
I enjoyed Florence Mills: Harlem Jazz Queen, by Bill Egan. It's an exhaustively thorough biography of a woman who was arguably the first international African American female star of the entertainment world....Mills is largely forgotten today, but Mr. Egan's affectionate and scholarly and immensely entertaining biography should correct that. His book is a monument not only to Mills' memory, but to the history of popular theatre as it matured via jazz from vaudeville to Broadway.
Bill Banfield
Bill Egan has created a first-rate biography, researched with passion, scholarly detail and clear commitment to the documentation of jazz artistry and culture...
Dan Morgenstern
By dint of dedicated and meticulous research, Bill Egan has managed to almost bring his subject back to life. She emerges from these pages not as a relic from the past but as a surprisingly contemporary and fully fledged human being, a woman not only of great beauty, charm and talent, but also of remarkable intelligence and humanity.
QBR: The Black Book Review - Max Rodriguez
Recommended.
September 2006 The Mississippi Rag
Bill Egan collects data carefully and is excellent in analyzing Mills' impact on the culture and her central role in black show business as it matured....Egan's book well conveys Mills' charismatic power....well researched and well written, useful to anyone with any interest in American music and culture.
No. 145 (Spring 2007) Vjm's Jazz and Blues Mart
Egan has done a first class job of assembling his material...I'd recommend this book to anyone wanting more information on a key figure of the Twentieth century musical theatre...
No. 145 (Spring 2007) VJM's Jazz and Blues Mart
Egan has done a first class job of assembling his material...I'd recommend this book to anyone wanting more information on a key figure of the Twentieth century musical theatre...

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780810850071
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
10/28/2004
Series:
Studies in Jazz Series, #48
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
1,143,051
Product dimensions:
6.90(w) x 8.96(h) x 0.95(d)

Meet the Author

Bill Egan is an Irish-born citizen of Australia and has pursued a lifelong interest in jazz and African American culture.

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