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Calypso and Calypsonians in North America, 1934-1961

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Re-Post: Miss Calypso Speaks

Posted by Michael Eldridge on May 28, 2014

News this morning that Maya Angelou has died, age 86. (See also Angelou’s most recent conversation with Oprah Winfrey, a two-minute trailer for Calypso Heat Wave, and a striking still from that film.) Last fall, Nichelle Gainer’s Vintage Black Glamour Tumblr featured a gorgeous photo of Angelou relaxing in her dressing room at the Village Vanguard, probably in 1957, taken by Ebony staff photographer G. Marshall Wilson. Today VBG had a moving tribute.


Maya Angelou

"Miss Calypso" reviewed in Billboard

“Miss Calypso” reviewed in Billboard, May 13, 1957

News from the blogosphere:  among fans of “Exotica” and students of the Calypso Craze, it’s well known that poet Maya Angelou’s early days as a dancer and lounge singer included a flirtation with calypso.  But it’s just as well known that the author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings hasn’t been especially keen to discuss that period of her career.  Until now, apparently.  Atlanta-based syndicated radio host Paul Leslie recently spoke with Angelou for his weekly Paul Leslie Hour, where the poet and memoirist obligingly held forth on (among other things) her start in calypso, her respect for the genre as a folk form, and her love of the music of Kitch, Lord Flea, and Irving Burgie.  Listen to a podcast of the program, “Calypso and Poetry: A Celebration of Maya Angelou” on Leslie’s weblog, and read a transcript of the interview here.


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