Sneak Preview: Soundies Book Reviewed in ALA “Choice” Magazine

 

One of the first reviews for Soundies and the Changing Image of Black Americans on Screen: One Dime at a Time will appear in the November 2022 issue of Choice, the American Library Association magazine.

The review is brief, pithy, and positive.  Hitting just about all the bases, it calls the book “a fascinating resource for those interested in film, jazz, performance, WW II, race, Black film history, and socio-cultural history.”

“In this comprehensive work, Delson locates Soundies within cinema history” while building the case that Soundies “impacted the social and cultural fabric of a racially divided America” and “played a role in advancing the country’s racial politics even when the country seemed reluctant to do so.”

Summing it up, the review had one final word on the book: “Essential.”

Can’t wait to see this in print.

Coming Up: Wednesday, September 7

Co-Hosting Soundies on TCM (Turner Classic Movies)

 

John Shadrack Horace and Johnny Moore’s 3 Blazers in “Along the Navajo Trail” (1945), one of the Soundies I’ll introduce on TCM on Wednesday night, September 7

Mark your calendar and save the date! On Wednesday, September 7, I’ll join Turner Classic Movies host Dave Karger to introduce 3 programs of Soundies, paired with 3 different feature films.

At 9:30 p.m. Eastern time, we’ll talk about “Soundies–Before They Were Stars,” featuring Dorothy Dandridge, Ricardo Montalban, a teenage Doris Day, and others, followed by Day’s big breakthrough movie, “Romance on the High Seas” (1948).

At 11:30 p.m. Eastern time, it’s “Soundies–Battle of the Band Leaders, Part One,” with classic Soundies by Gene Krupa, Cab Calloway, Stan Kenton, and others, leading into “Orchestra Wives” (1942).

Closing the night at 1:30 a.m. Eastern (10:30 p.m. for the West Coast crowd), “Soundies–Country Classics” features a terrific duet by Carolina Cotton and Merle Travis, and a rare Soundies find: “Along the Navajo Trail, starring John Shadrack Horace and Johnny Moore’s 3 Blazers, followed by “Your Cheatin’ Heart” (1964).

Two weeks later, Dave and I will be back with another Soundies night on September 21.

From “Along the Navajo Trail” (1945)

Save the Date! Soundies on TCM, Wednesday, September 21

Co-Hosting the 2nd Program of Soundies on TCM (Turner Classic Movies)

 

“Good-Nite All,” 1943, one of the Soundies I’ll introduce in the “Swing Music and Dance” program on September 21

Two weeks after our first set of Soundies programs on September 7 (see entry below), Dave Karger and I are back on Wednesday, September 21 with another night of Soundies paired with feature films.

At 8 p.m. Eastern time, we’ll start with “Soundies — Swing Music and Dance,” featuring classic Soundies by Duke Ellington, Louis Jordan, the Charioteers, and more—including one of my favorites, “Good-Nite All,” followed by Jordan in “Reet, Petite and Gone” (1947).

At 9:30 p.m. Eastern, it’s “Soundies — Battle of the Band Leaders, Part Two,” with Jimmy Dorsey, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and yes, Lawrence Welk! Followed by “Cabin in the Sky” (1943).

At 11:30 p.m. Eastern, we’ll close with “Soundies — Joining the War Effort,” featuring Soundies by Doris Day, Louis Jordan, and some wonderful discoveries–including Toni Lane, who turns in a terrific performance on “When Hitler Kicks the Bucket.”

I hope you’ll mark your calendar and tune in for both evenings. For details, check the TCM monthly calendar in September. 

“Good-Nite All” (1943)

Soundies Book Shortlisted for Leading Award in African American History & Culture

 

I’m thrilled to report that Soundies and the Changing Image of Black Americans on Screen: One Dime at a Time has made the shortlist for the 2022 MAAH Stone Book Award.

Sponsored by the Museum of African American History Boston/Nantucket and the James M. and Cathleen D. Stone Foundation, the award “encourages scholarship and writing within the field of African American history and culture.” Now in its 5th year, it has quickly become the leading award in this subject area.

Chosen from 111 submissions, the shortlist includes 16 outstanding titles.  I’m honored that the Soundies book is among them.

The award winner and two finalists will be announced in October.

Soundies bookcover

Live Screening & Presentation: Film Forum NYC

“Soundies: Glamour, Gender and A Little More Libido”

Ed Coleman of Day, Dawn, and Dusk in “Faust”

In celebration of Pride Month, on Monday, June 20 at 6:30 p.m., I’ll be at Film Forum with another program pulled from the full Soundies catalog—this one featuring films that play with and push back on stereotypes of women and the exclusionary, emphatically heterosexual culture of the World War II era. 

 

Along with early-career glimpses of Dorothy Dandridge, dancer Cyd Charisse, and Fantasy Island star Ricardo Montalban, the program spotlights Soundies performers who reflect a looser, more expansive vision of 1940s America—including vocal trio Day, Dawn, and Dusk, the fabulous De Castro Sisters, and “dance impersonator” Arica Wild.  Monday, June 20 at 6:30 p.m.

Monday, JUNE 20 6:30pm
$9.00 Member
$15.00 Regular

BUY TICKETS

Film Forum

209 West Houston St. west of 6th Ave.
Map and Directions
Box Office: 212-727-8110

Shortlisted for Prestigious Award

Exciting news! Soundies and the Changing Image of Black Americans on Screen: One Dime at a Time has been shortlisted for the 2022 Ralph J. Gleason Music Book Award.

A joint project of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Clive Davis Institute at NYU, and the Pop Conference—and underwritten by the Wenner Journalism Fund—the award commemorates a defining figure in the music and pop culture landscape. Ralph J. Gleason (1917-1975) covered jazz, pop, and rock with passion and great insight, and—among other things—co-founded Rolling Stone magazine and the Monterey Jazz Festival.

The Soundies book is one of 15 titles chosen from close to 70 submissions, by a jury of distinguished music writers and scholars including Laina Dawes, Nelson George, Alisha Lola Jones, Greil Marcus, and Amanda Petrusich.

They’ve put together a terrific shortlist, and I’m honored to be part of it.

The award announcement is scheduled for June.

.Soundies bookcover

Soundies Book on “Archival Spaces”

Just catching up with the essay that Jan-Christopher Horak, former director of the UCLA Film and Television Archive, wrote about Soundies and the Changing Image of Black Americans on Screen: One Dime at a Time, which he posted on his Archival Spaces website in January. 

Calling it “a must-read for anyone interested in the history of African American popular culture,” he pulls together several of the book’s key points in a short, quick piece. (With a lot of images.)

Click here for the Archival Spaces website, then scroll down to entry #287.

Virtual Book Talk: Desmond-Fish Library

Desmond-Fish2 3 20 22

On Sunday, March 20 at 4 p.m. (Eastern time), nationally acclaimed jazz musician  Gwen Laster will join me for an online Soundies conversation.

The program is presented by the Desmond-Fish Public Library in collaboration with Split Rock Books in Cold Spring, where Hudson Valley readers can pick up the book before, during, and after the event. 

Can’t wait to hear Gwen’s thoughts on Soundies–especially the ones with women musicians. I hope you’ll join us for an hour of conversation, music, and Soundies.

Missed the conversation?   Watch it here.

INFO AND REGISTRATION 

SUNDAY, MARCH 20
4 P.M.
Desmond-Fish Public Library

 
 

 

Live Screening & Presentation: Film Forum

“SOUNDIES: AMERICA FOR A DIME”

Background images: Dorothy Dandridge in "A Zoot Suit"
Background images: Dorothy Dandridge in “A Zoot Suit”

For friends in the New York area, on Thursday, February 10 at 6:50 p.m., I’ll be at Film Forum with a program pulled from the full Soundies catalog—part of the series “NYC’s Movie Renaissance 1945-1955.”

 

The program focuses on Soundies shot and set in New York, including many Black-cast Soundies filmed at the old Edison studios in the Bronx. On screen: Duke Ellington, Nat “King” Cole, and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, among others, along with a teenage Doris Day and a very young Liberace. Thursday, Feb. 10 at 6:50 p.m.

Thursday, Feb. 10 6:50pm
$9.00 Member
$15.00 Regular

BUY TICKETS

Film Forum

209 West Houston St. west of 6th Ave.
Map and Directions
Box Office: 212-727-8110
Part of the series NYC’S MOVIE RENAISSANCE 1945 – 1955

Radio Conversation: WBAI

SOUNDIES BOOK on “LOPATE AT LARGE”

Courtesy Muzen Audio

On Friday, Jan. 28 at 1 p.m., I’ll be on the WBAI radio show “Lopate at Large,” talking about the book and the upcoming Feb. 10 Soundies program at Film Forum.

 

We’ll be joined by film historian Richard Koszarski, whose terrific new book on postwar New York filmmaking inspired the Film Forum series that my Soundies program is part of: “NYC’s Movie Renaissance 1945–1955.” Should be an interesting conversation!

Missed the conversation? Listen to it in the WBAI archive: https://wbai.org/archive/program/episode/?id=28421

 

Friday, jan. 28             1 pm
WBAI 99.5 FM
WWW.WBAI.ORG/