Marching Women’s History

Posted on 7 March 2011 Monday


I didn’t do any of the ethnic history months, but I’ve decided to celebrate Woman’s History Month. During the month, I’ll be sharing non-fiction titles that celebrate women of color. We’re going to start out kinda jazzy with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.

This all women band was formed to earn money for the Piney Woods Country Life School [you’ve got to click this just to hear the school song!] in Piney Woods, Mississippi. As popular as the band was, their earnings were slim and little was available for the school. Members of the band were African American, mixed raced, Asian  and Native American as well as White women.

In 2009, Marilyn Nelson and Jerry Pinkney documented this story in Sweethearts of Rhythm: the story of the greatest all girl band in the world. Together, they paired poems and watercolors to bring to life the syncopated life of these gifted women.

That Man of Mine plays with Tiny Davis on trumpet.

Musicians walk a tightrope. Below them lie madness and beauty.

The world was aflame, the men soldiering at the front.

The Sweethearts had no philosophy: They just did their duty.

A girl has to trumpet down Jericho, if a man can’t.

A girl must fling ecstasy over the world’s desperation

with flowery solos, with intricately scattered grace notes,

with hep-cat audacity. She must play a balm for her nation

with nuanced bravado.


A review of Sweethearts of Rhythm can be found on the HappyNappyBookseller Blog

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Posted in: Women's History