50 Black SheRoes: Part 3, Singers and Actresses

October 9, 2009 by  
Filed under inspiration

Singing and Acting SheRoes


Hattie McDaniel Dorothy Dandridge

Josephine Baker


  • Hattie McDaniel – the first black actor to win an Academy Award; she won the Best Supporting Actress award for her role as Mammy in 1939’s Gone With The Wind. About playing the role of a servant, she said, “It’s better to get $7,000 a week for playing a servant than $7 a week for being one.” [she has gotten alot of flack for portraying a stereotypical role; I applaud her for taking lemons and turning them into lemonade, by supporting her community and assisting others in obtaining college degrees through her earnings].
  • Dorothy Dandridge – first black woman to be nominated for the Best Actress Academy Award, for the title role in Carmen Jones
  • Josephine Baker – the first African American woman to star in a major motion picture [the silent film Siren of the Tropics (1927)], to integrate an American concert hall, and to become a world-famous entertainer. Although she became a French citizen in 1937, she contributed to the Civil Rights Movement in America and the French Resistance during World War II. Baker became a muse for contemporary authors, painters, designers, and sculptors including Langston Hughes, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso, and Christian Dior.


Ruby Dee Diahann Carroll


  • Ruby Dee – actress, playwright and activist, among other things. Her career in acting has crossed all major forms of media over a span of eight decades. She was married to fellow actor Ossie Davis for 57 years. Together they were notable civil rights activists.
  • Diahann Carroll – singer and actress. In 1962 she became the first black woman to win a Tony Award for Best Actress, for the role of Barbara Woodruff in the musical No Strings. Carroll is best known for her title role in the 1968 television series Julia, which made her the first African American actress to star in her own television series where she did not play a domestic worker.


Marian Anderson Mahalia Jackson

Aretha Franklin (wasn’t she just a doll!)


  • Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones – aka “Sissieretta Jones”, was a famous soprano opera singer in her day. She sang for President Benjamin Harrison in 1892 and three consecutive after him, Presidents Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt. She was the first black person to sing at the Music Hall in New York (rename Carnegie Hall) also in 1892.
  • Marian Anderson – this opera singer entered the pages of history in 1939, when she was denied permission by the Daughters of the American Revolution to sing at Constitution Hall because she was black. Instead, she sang outdoors on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for a crowd of 75,000 people [First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR in protest of their refusal]. She was the first black person to perform at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City in 1955.
  • Dinah Washington – one of the most influential vocalists of the 20th century. Washington started singing the blues, but also sang pop and R&B. She won a Grammy in 1959 for her song What A Diff’rence A Day Made; this song and 2 others were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame: Unforgettable and Teach Me Tonight.
  • Mahalia Jackson – one of the most influential gospel singers and credited as the first Queen of Gospel music. In 1946, Jackson recorded the song “Move On Up a Little Higher”, which sold more than 8 million copies and was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In addition, this great singer mentored Albertina Walker and Aretha Franklin.
  • Aretha Franklin – the ‘Queen of Soul’ has won 18 Grammys, had 20 #1 singles on the Billboard R&B charts, and 45 “Top 40” hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In 1987 Franklin became the first female artist to be entered into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2008, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Franklin #1 on it’s list of The Greatest Singers of All Time.


Be sure to read tomorrow’s post, Part 4: Civil Rights Leaders.

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One Response to “50 Black SheRoes: Part 3, Singers and Actresses”
  1. I REALLY liked your post and blog! It took me a tiny bit to discover your site…but I bookmarked it. Would you mind if I posted a link back to your page? I have a Political Satire site of my own at White Rabbit Cult. Thanks!

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