Josephine Baker Series

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Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me

 

This painting represents one of my favorite swing songs "Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me" as played by Sidney Bechet.  It is a hauntingly beautiful slow  Lindy Hop and Charleston tempo that I dearly love dancing to.  The music, note for note, is at her feet.

 

The story of the painting has Josephine poised on the horizon of Paris as she is about to take the city by storm.  Sitting next to her is her pet cheetah Chiquita watching Sidney Bechet play to her.  It is rumored they were lovers, but it is doubtful if either broke the others heart as they were both quick to love and leave.  This song was written in 1919 and was probably known to both of them since it was at the height of popularity in its day

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Josephine Baker arrived in Paris in 1925, at the beginning of the jazz era, to dance in the first all black show  "La Review Negra."  Arriving as a young teenager she blossomed into the Jazz Icon of the 1920's & 30s.  In the beginning she was the best Charleston dancer to ever grace the stage, who had a comedic persona that captivated her audiences.  Later Josephine developed a "sensual appeal  that took Europe by storm."  Her beauty inspired aritists to paint her, dress designers to clothe her, and kings to propose to her.  Far from the discrimination she experienced in America, Europe was enthralled with everything African and embraced her as their own. Nicknamed Black Venus, Black Pearl and Creole Goddess, "admirers bestowed a plethora of gifts, including diamonds and cars, and she received approximately 1,500 marriage proposals."

 

During WW1, Josephine became a spy for the french resistance and earned 3 metals of honor for her courage. She was never able to have children and so adopted 12 children, of different religions and ethnicities, calling them her "Rainbow Tribe" with the hope of showing how mankind can live together in peace.  She loved animals, and at one time she owned a cheetah named Chiquita, shown next to her in the painting below.

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Art inspired by early Jazz, Swing and Tropical Heat