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.
Bill Egan is an Irish-born citizen of Australia and has pursued a lifelong interest in jazz and African American culture.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Dedication Chapter 2 Acknowledgments Chapter 3 Editor's Foreword Chapter 4 Preface Chapter 5 Introduction Chapter 6 Abbreviations Chapter 7 1. Young Florence Chapter 8 2. Out in the World Chapter 9 3. The Rocky Road to Fame Chapter 10 4. Shufflin' to the Top Chapter 11 5. Transatlatic Star Chapter 12 6. Dixie Dreams Chapter 13 7. The Great White Way Chapter 14 8. A Blackbird Takes Wing Chapter 15 9. Looking for a Bluebird in Europe Chapter 16 10. Black Birds of 1927 Chapter 17 11. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot Chapter 18 12. Bye Bye Blackbird Chapter 19 13. Florence Mills: A Reappraisal Chapter 20 Appendix 1: Black Beauty Chapter 21 Appendix 2: Other Commemorative Items Chapter 22 Bibliography Chapter 23 Index Chapter 24 About the Author