Vox Populi

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Video: “Symphony in Black” by Duke Ellington (featuring Billie Holiday’s first filmed performance)


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In September of 1935, Paramount Pictures released a nine-minute film — Symphony in Black: A Rhapsody of Negro Life, an early cinematic depiction of African-American culture. It features Duke Ellington and his orchestra performing his first extended composition and stars Billie Holiday in her first filmed performance.

The one-reel movie, directed by Fred Waller, is made up of four parts: “The Laborers,” “A Triangle,” “A Hymn of Sorrow” and “Harlem Rhythm.” Holiday appears as a jilted and abused lover in “A Triangle.”

The 19 year-old Holiday sings Ellington’s “Saddest Tale,” a song selected by the composer to fit the young singer’s style. “Saddest tale on land or sea,” begin the lyrics, “Was when my man walked out on me.”

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Billie Holiday’s publicity photo for “Symphony in Black”

2 comments on “Video: “Symphony in Black” by Duke Ellington (featuring Billie Holiday’s first filmed performance)

  1. cursormania15
    May 9, 2017

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    Like

  2. anisioluiz2008
    September 25, 2016

    Reblogged this on O LADO ESCURO DA LUA.

    Like

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