Book review of Footnotes: The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way by Caseen Gaines

Book review of Footnotes: The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way by Caseen Gaines

But Miller and Lyles were gifted comedians, the chorus girls were chic and sassy, and best of all, “Shuffle Along” had a score of charm and modernity. One song, “I’m Just Wild About Harry,” about one of the mayoral candidates, would become a standard (and would be used for another Harry — Truman — as a campaign song when he ran for president in 1948). Another, “Love Will Find a Way,” was a romantic ballad in a slowed-down tempo — the first time on a New York stage that a Black couple expressed their mutual ardor in a serious fashion. And the musical was a hit, running more than 500 performances, something nearly unheard of for any Broadway show back then. Its greatest success, however, may have been how it advanced the cause of Black artists at a critical time: “The proudest day of my life,” said Blake later, “was when Shuffle Along opened. At the intermission, all these white people kept saying, ‘I would like to touch him, the man who wrote the music.’ At last, I’m a human being.”

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