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Black Diva of the Thirties: The Life of Ruby Elzy (Willie Morris Books in Memoir and Biography) Kindle Edition
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Before I picked up this book I didn't know who Ruby Elzy was, but thanks to this book, I not only know of her accomplishments, but also a little about her on a personal level. I was even inspired to search online for audio clips so that I could hear the voice I read so much about. David Weaver has crafted a work that is a perfect balance between Elzy's personal and professional lives. When he writes about issues such as her divorce from her first husband or her relationship with her father, he does so with a respect that is often missing in today's biographies. He also does a wonderful job recreating the zeitgeist of the 1930's era by providing just enough relevant historical information. It is obvious from reading the book and scanning its extensive endnotes that BLACK DIVA OF THE THIRTIES is a well-researched book; it provides a comprehensive view of an important, but often overlooked woman, whose life was cut too short.
Reviewed by Stacey Seay
of The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
Biographers new to their craft often fall into the trap of overstating (and overstuffing) their subject's history, but all such pitfalls are avoided here. The book is a model of its kind and portrays Ruby Elzy's life and times in a warm, comprehensive and thoroughly engaging fashion. Weaver is also a born writer and I defy anyone to sample the marvelously evocative Prologue and not read on.
The book is a joy to read but more importantly, through the quality of his writing and the integrity of his research, Weaver ensures that Ruby Elzy's distinguished contribution to 20th century music will not be forgotten. The greatest test of any musical biography is whether the reader is compelled at the end of the book to seek out the subject's recorded legacy. With BLACK DIVA OF THE THIRTIES David Weaver has accomplished that task triumphantly, leaving the reader only to regret that so little recorded material by Ms. Elzy has survived her untimely passing.
This is a wonderful book by a gifted writer and an essential addition to every serious music lover's library.
Derek Mannering is the author of MARIO LANZA: A LIFE IN PICTURES published by Robert Hale, London. The author's acclaimed and newly revised biography MARIO LANZA: SINGING TO THE GODS will be published in the United States in summer 2005 by University Press of Mississippi.
In "Black Diva of the Thirties: The Life of Ruby Elzy," David E. Weaver has written a beautifully researched, detailed, and poignant account of Ruby's life and her reach for success with constant work, a God-given voice, and a genuine warmth of spirit.
From Rust College, to Ohio State University to Julliard and Broadway, to radio, film and fame, we follow her through triumph and sorrow. She costarred with Paul Robeson in "Emperor Jones," with Bing Crosby in "Birth of the Blues" and played the original Serena in George Gershwin's "Porgy and Bess," singing the role hundreds of time on Broadway and on the road. She performed in Eleanor Roosevelt's White House. "There's no color to talent," said Ruby. Ruby was preparing for the starring role in Aida when she died at age 35 in a Detroit hospital during routine surgery.
I applaud David E. Weaver for bringing Ruby Elzy back into focus so that her life can be clearly viewed and pondered.
David Weaver has also produced in 2006, with Cambria Master Recordings "Ruby Elzy in Song: Rare Recordings (1935 - 1942)," on which all of her recorded works are remastered by Lance Bowling onto one CD. Now her lovely voice can be heard and enjoyed for all time
David Weaver's fine book is a most moving and informing tribute to Ruby Elzy's life and career. It is also a tribute to the achievement of a people emerging with triumph from slavery and discrimination. Despite their triumph, this book also indicts the nature of ongoing discrimination, against Afro-Americans and against all other people of colours and beliefs and ways of life that cannot be accommodated by the fear-based, unreasoned and unreasonable prejudice of other people across the world. This world is too small a place to contain both a diverse humanity and oppressive, evil prejudice.
In spite of the great interest and pleasure that I found, and continue to find on re-reading, in David Weaver's first book (surely, other books may follow), reading it was a painful experience - it has forced me to confront my own, deep-seated prejudices. There is a story where Ruby Elzy is walking with her friends and is mocked by a racist white boy. When she starts to sing a joyful spiritual instead of being downcast, the boy then acknowledges, in a kind of begrudging wonder, that she surely could sing.
David Weaver's work in creating this good book has helped many of us to share that boy's wonder. Sharing his admiration and affection for this great woman and her people is a gift that earns him the warm, well-earned gratitude of his readers.
David Weaver is now preparing a CD of Ruby Elzy's work and no doubt this will be sought after by many people on its release.
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