Journal article

"On Fire with Hope": African American Classical Musicians, Major Bowes' Amateur Hour, and the Hope for a Colour-Blind Radio

David Goodman

Journal of American Studies | CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS | Published : 2013


Amateur talent shows were among the most popular programs on mid-1930s network radio, but for African Americans they had an importance that went beyond entertainment. These shows attracted considerable attention in the black press and from black audiences because they held out the promise of escape from the constraints of Jim Crow into a colour-blind national public sphere. This article explores the participation of African American performers on the most popular of the radio amateur shows, Major Bowes' Original Amateur Hour. It focusses particularly on two black classical performers on the Amateur Hour-singers Otis Holley and La Julia Rhea-contrasting their success on the radio show with th..

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