The First Lady (of song): Ella Fitzgerald - Sammy Davis Jr., G.O.A.T. (the greatest of all time) - The Goddess; Lena Horne
Presented under the auspices of the Robert Fordham Chair in Liberal Arts:
Ella Fitzgerald, known as, the "First Lady of Song," could have been another police-blotter story. Homeless, at fifteen, living on the streets of Harlem, through sheer drive and ambition, she broke through, becoming one of the most admired entertainers of the twentieth century. She had a career that spanned five decades: the first African American Grammy Award winner, performer before presidents, kings and queens around the world. We'll take a close look at Ella Fitzgerald, the artist and the person.
Sammy Davis Jr., literally, grew up on stage, making his professional debut at age four. He could dance, sing, act, play multiple musical instruments and mimic. There may never be another performer the equal Sammy Davis Jr. But who was Sammy? We'll take a close look at a very complex personality, who may never have discovered; "What Makes Sammy Run?"
Lena Horne, was often labeled: "the Black Goddess." She was a lot more. Lena was the first Black performer to ink an extended contract with a major motion picture company Her contract with MGM was for seven years. It stated that she would not play the role of a servant. Most Black actors, in the 40s, played the role of maids and butlers. Lena Horne became one of the major supper club attractions in America. She was an activist, Blacklisted by the House Unamerican Activities Committee for Communist affiliations. She survived losing her son, father and husband, all within one year, making one of the most dramatic come-backs in the history of show business.
Prof. Buxton’s lifelong passion has been music and documentary filmmaking. He has worked as a professional musician, with the likes of Peggy Lee, Billy Eckstine, and Bill Strayhorn. He has produced shows ranging in scope from the Motown Allstars to B. B. King, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, and Miles Davis. He traveled with Ellington producing an award‐winning audio documentary. A longtime jazz club/restaurateur in Seattle and SF, he has also had a long career in broadcasting working for KGO as a newsman, a talk show host, and an executive producer. He is a Northern California Emmy Awardee. He hosts “Saturday Mid‐Day Jazz” on KCSM. Working as a social psychologist/football player have been parts of his life now being put into Memoirs of a Jazz Junkie: My First Two Hundred Years.