Harlem’s Billie “Eleanora Fagan” Holiday

Billie Holiday Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959) was an American jazz singer and songwriter. Continue Reading →

HW Remix: Knocking on Harlem’s Door

harlem100726_560We thought this story by Chris Smith that orignally ran in the NYMagazine on November 3, 2010 would be informative as we head into the primary elections in June 2014.

It’s a campaign-kickoff rally straight out of the playbook: festive red-white-and-blue posters, lapel buttons featuring the smiling candidate, a soundtrack of upbeat and strenuously unobjectionable tunes. Continue Reading →

Harlem, The Soundtrack Of Miles, Count, Duke’s Film Noir (video)

tumblr_m8s0yhPAGM1qcglluo1_500When we think of film noir, we tend to think of a mood best set by a look: shadow and light (mostly shadow), grim but visually rich weather, we can imagine the near-depopulated urban streets of Harlem. Continue Reading →

James Melvin “Jimmie” Lunceford, 1940-1972 (video)

James Melvin “Jimmie” LuncefordJames Melvin “Jimmie” Lunceford (June 6, 1902 – July 12, 1947) was an American jazz alto saxophonist and bandleader in the swing era. Continue Reading →

Glenn Caldwell “The King Of Harlem Hairdressers”, 1940-2005

25cityroom-barber1-blog480In 1983, Glenn Caldwell, a music teacher from Maryland, was playing saxophone in a South Carolina bar and began talking with a singer whose dapper outfit and slick hair seemed from a bygone era. Continue Reading →

Harlem’s Renaissance Casino, 1924

Harlem Renassance BallroomThe Harlem Renaissance Ballroom opened in 1923. The casino was built by the black-owned Sarco Realty Company. The Ballroom at 138th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, quaked with the frenzied rhythms of the Lindy Hop. Continue Reading →

Fredericka Carolyn “Fredi” Washington, Harlem (video)

Fredi washingtonFredericka Carolyn “Fredi” Washington (December 23, 1903 – June 28, 1994) was an accomplished African American dramatic film actress, … Continue Reading →

Harlem’s Earl ‘Snakehips’ Tucker (video)

Earl “Snakehips” Tucker (1905 – 1937) became known as the “Human Boa Constrictor” after the dance he popularized in Harlem in the 1920s called the “snakehips (Dance)“. Continue Reading →

The Douglas Theater, Harlem, 1920

On 143rd Street and Lenox Avenue sat the Douglas Theater, depending on which of my sources is correct, either 600 or 2200 seats (which in 1935 expanded to 2300, which could indicate that an orchestra pit was covered over to add more seating). Continue Reading →