Black Diva of the Thirties ePub (Adobe DRM) download by David E. Weaver

Black Diva of the Thirties

University Press of Mississippi
Publication date: January 2012
ISBN: 9781604737653
Digital Book format: ePub (Adobe DRM)
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While undergoing routine surgery to remove a benign tumor, Ruby Elzy died. She was only thirty-five. Had she lived, she would have been one of the first black artists to appear in grand opera.

Although now in the shadows, she was a shining star in her day. She entertained Eleanor Roosevelt in the White House. She was Paul Robeson's leading lady in the movie version of The Emperor Jones. She co-starred in Birth of the Blues opposite Bing Crosby and Mary Martin. She sang at Harlem's Apollo Theater and in the Hollywood Bowl. Her remarkable soprano voice was known to millions over the radio. She was personally chosen by George Gershwin to create one of the leading roles in his masterpiece, that of Serena in the original production of Porgy and Bess. Her signature song was the vocally demanding "My Man's Gone Now."

From obscurity she had risen to great heights. Ruby Pearl Elzy (1908-1943) was born in abject poverty in Pontotoc, Mississippi. Her father abandoned the family when she was five, leaving her mother, a strong, devout woman, to raise four small children. Ruby first sang publicly at the age of four and even in childhood dreamed of a career on the stage. Good fortune struck when a visiting professor, overwhelmed upon hearing her beautiful voice at Rust College in Mississippi, arranged for her to study music at Ohio State University. Later, on a Rosenwald Fellowship, she enrolled at the Juilliard School in New York City.

After more than 800 performances in Porgy and Bess, she set her sights on a huge goal, to sing in grand opera. She was at the peak of her form. While she was preparing for her debut in the title role of Verdi's Aida, tragedy struck.

During her brief career, Ruby Elzy was in the top tier of American sopranos and a precursor who paved a way for Leontyne Price, Jessye Norman, Kathleen Battle, and other black divas of the operatic stage. This biography acknowledges her exceptional talent, recognizes her contribution to American music, and tells her tragic yet inspiring story.

David E. Weaver has sung professionally in more than two dozen roles in operas and musicals. His career in the arts and in broadcasting has spanned more than twenty-five years. He lives in Columbus, Ohio.

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An inspiring book

How come most of us have never heard of this wonderful lady? I read this on a recommendation and I am thoroughly glad I did. The author has written a well-researched and interesting biography in which he manages to artfully balance the personal and public life of Ruby Elzy along with the history and feel of the 1930s. There were times while reading it that I felt just like I was there. Needless to say Ruby was up against everything society could throw at her from poverty to racism but she conquered it all and achieved a huge deal. It is just all too tragic that her life was cut short so soon. Thanks to David E. Weaver we can re-discover her again.
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Black Diva of the Thirties - David E. Weaver

This is the biography of acclaimed soprano Ruby Elzy, who died under operation for a benign tumour at just 35. As a classically and university trained musical scholar, Elzy was on route to not only further stardom, but the badge of first black opera singer on the stage. Written in home-town, romantic prose which fits the setting of the early to mid-1900s, this book depicts Ruby as a natural black voice among so many which were unheard in impoverished and racially-tense Mississippi. Weaver intersperses the justified lauding of a hugely respected diva with poignant dialogue from her life.
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