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Footnotes: The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way

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by Caseen Gaines

Sourcebooks

5/21/21, hardcover

SKU: 9781492688815

 

The triumphant story of how an all-Black Broadway cast and crew changed musical theatre--and the world--forever.

This musical introduced Black excellence to the Great White Way. Broadway was forever changed and we, who stand on the shoulders of our brilliant ancestors, are charged with the very often elusive task of carrying that torch into our present.--Billy Porter, Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award-winning actor

If Hamilton, Rent, or West Side Story captured your heart, you'll love this in-depth look into the rise of the 1921 Broadway hit, Shuffle Along, the first all-Black musical to succeed on Broadway. No one was sure if America was ready for a show featuring nuanced, thoughtful portrayals of Black characters--and the potential fallout was terrifying. But from the first jazzy, syncopated beats of composers Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake, New York audiences fell head over heels.

Footnotes is the story of how Sissle and Blake, along with comedians Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles, overcame poverty, racism, and violence to harness the energy of the Harlem Renaissance and produce a runaway Broadway hit that launched the careers of many of the twentieth century's most beloved Black performers. Born in the shadow of slavery and establishing their careers at a time of increasing demands for racial justice and representation for people of color, they broke down innumerable barriers between Black and white communities at a crucial point in our history.

Author and pop culture expert Caseen Gaines leads readers through the glitz and glamour of New York City during the Roaring Twenties to reveal the revolutionary impact one show had on generations of Americans, and how its legacy continues to resonate today.

Reviews:

"With meticulous research and smooth storytelling, Caseen Gaines significantly deepens our understanding of one of the key cultural events that launched the Harlem Renaissance. Footnotes reminds us of the many talented, but forgotten, Black actors and musicians whose innovative productions helped shape our shared culture and history." - A'Lelia Bundles, New York Times bestselling author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walke

"In Gaines's hands, the artists come to life as groundbreakers--and later civil rights advocates (Sissle was president of the Negro Actors Guild in 1935)--who paved the way for artists to come. This vibrant history is well worth checking out." - Publishers Weekly

About the Author:

Author and journalist Caseen Gaines has appeared in Rolling Stones and Vanity Fair. He hold an MA from Rutgers in American Studies, focusing on racial representations in popular culture. He is the award-winning author of several books that explore the lasting impact of significant moments in art and entertainment. His work has been praised by media outlets around the world, including NPR, The Hollywood Reporter, and Esquire. Caseen directs theater and teaches literature and writing, drama, journalism, and a course on race and representation at a high school in New Jersey, where he lives.