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Joyce Bryant

Joyce Bryant, “the Bronze Blond Bombshell,” never achieved Eartha Kitt or Lena Horne popularity, but the supper club chanteuse is still fondly remembered. The four octave singer, aka the black Marilyn Monroe, “the Voice You’ll Always Remember,” and “the Belter,” was born in Oakland, CA, but raised in San Francisco.

Her act was outrageously sexy; she wore provocative, tight, backless, cleavage-revealing mermaid dresses that left little to imagine and they were so tight, she had to be carried off-stage. Supposedly, Bryant twisted so much she lost four pounds a performance. The blond hair probably inspired Etta James — who, like Bryant, was also raised in San Francisco and lived in Los Angeles — to copy the blond hair image later. Bryant’s hair was naturally black, but not wanting to be upstaged by Josephine Bakerat a club, she doused it with silver radiator paint, slithered into a tight silver dress and voila: the Bronze Blond Bombshell and even Baker was impressed.

She was called one of the most beautiful black women in the world and regularly appeared in Afrocentric magazines like Jet.

The first phase of her career ended in 1955 when she denounced it for the church (her mother was a devout Seventh-Day Adventist). Despite problems with the IRS (she owed 60,000 dollars), she enrolled in a Seventh-Day Adventist College in Alabama and later became an evangelist. She recanted because of false accusations and returned to entertaining in the ’60s, finding work with touring foreign opera companies. She returned to the rocky club scene and sang on cruise ships; this time without the theatrics, blond hair, and tight dresses. Bryant was honored at the Arlington County Library in Arlington, VA, during Black History Month at an event hosted by jazz historian and WPFWradio host Jim Beyers (who calls her the Lost Diva).

~ Andrew Hamilton, All Music Guide


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via: vielles annonces