In this powerful biography, Bogle recovers the rich fullness of singer Ethel Waters's life (1896–1977). In vivid though often exhausting detail, Bogle traces Waters's rise from the poverty of her surroundings in Chester, Pa., through her early musical successes in Harlem in the 1920s and 1930s to her film and Broadway career and her later religious conversion as her health declined. Waters started singing very early, and worked the clubs and chitlin' circuit with ribald and sexy songs; she soon made her name as both black and white audiences flocked to hear her sing songs such as "Am I Blue?," "Stormy Weather," and "Shake That Thing" in Harlem clubs. As Bogle notes, Waters's records helped to create a new record-buying public, and she ushered in a style of popular singing that later singers like Diana Ross would try to imitate. Bogle chronicles her intimate relationships with both men and women as well as her stormy relationships with other artists, like Josephine Baker and Lena Horne. Bogle's thorough and unflinchingly honest look at Waters's brilliant and flawed life will undoubtedly be the definitive biography of this great woman. (Feb.)
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*Starred Review* Waters� career spanned seven decades, from vaudeville to Harlem nightclubs, from Broadway to Hollywood. Bogle, author of several biographies of black entertainers, including the best-selling Dorothy Dandridge (1997), offers a penetrating look at a woman of massive talent and determination. Waters grew up mostly in Chester, Pennsylvania, adopting a wandering life that suited her desire to flee her difficult past, poverty, hard family life, and early, failed marriage. In the early 1920s, she was among the first black performers in Harlem whom white patrons came to see. She began recording in the 1920s and �30s and moved from blues to pop; among her hits were �Stormy Weather� and �Heat Wave.� Her talent for singing, dancing, and acting led her to cross paths with Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, Count Basie, Josephine Baker, Elia Kazan, Darryl F. Zanuck, Sammy Davis Jr., Harry Belafonte, and others. Her best-known roles were in the film The Member of the Wedding and the play Mamba�s Daughters.Bogle chronicles her career ups and downs and her tempestuous relationships with a series of husbands and lovers, male and female, as she struggled with racism and sexism and her own complex personality as a woman known to be both profane and pious. --Vanessa BushSee all Editorial Reviews
Ethel truly had a remarkable life. If you want to know who the true Ethel is, get this book.Published 1 month ago by Kay
Great book, I learned a lot about her life and her relationships with others that I knew nothing about. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Patrick J. Hanna Sr.
I'm currently reading it. So far I finding it as another seed in my search of all book's relating to all African Americans who's history's have been lost until found. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
I am pleased with this book, but am holding it for my nursing assistant's birthday; I already gave her Ethel Waters' autobiography and know she'll like the biography. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Carolyn M. Lane
This is a terrible book by someone who doesn't seem to understand people, how to capture a moment or person's life and is so biased by late 20th and 21st century perspectives and... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Deborah McElhinney
I enjoyed reading this book because it was superbly written. Donald Bogle did an excellent job of research and the riveting narrative was superb.Published 20 months ago by Terry J.
Excellent bio of Ethel Waters. while reading the book, I found entries referring to my husband's father & uncle. It was a great surprise.Published on August 20, 2013 by Sa-Rah Bibbins
Bogle paints a wonderfully candid portrait of a complex and fascinating woman. His narrative takes us to the world of African American entertainers of the early to mid twentieth... Read morePublished on November 30, 2012 by Barry Marino
All I can say is thanks Mr. Bogle for opening my eyes to the great talent of Ms. Waters. I had seen her name and face many times without really going any deeper than that, so after... Read morePublished on July 27, 2012 by Amazon Customer