Filled with firsthand accounts of more than a hundred women who performed during this era and complemented by thorough—and eye-opening—archival research, Swing Shift not only offers a history of this significant aspect of American society and culture but also examines how and why whole bands of dedicated and talented women musicians were dropped from—or never inducted into—our national memory. Tucker’s nuanced presentation reveals who these remarkable women were, where and when they began to play music, and how they navigated a sometimes wild and bumpy road—including their experiences with gas and rubber rationing, travel restrictions designed to prioritize transportation for military needs, and Jim Crow laws and other prejudices. She explains how the expanded opportunities brought by the war, along with sudden increased publicity, created the illusion that all female musicians—no matter how experienced or talented—were “Swing Shift Maisies,” 1940s slang for the substitutes for the “real” workers (or musicians) who were away in combat. Comparing the working conditions and public representations of women musicians with figures such as Rosie the Riveter, WACs, USO hostesses, pin-ups, and movie stars, Tucker chronicles the careers of such bands as the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Phil Spitalny’s Hours of Charm, The Darlings of Rhythm, and the Sharon Rogers All-Girl Band.
Harlem Renaissance in the West: The New Negro's Western Experience will change the way students and scholars of the Harlem Renaissance view the efforts of artists, musicians, playwrights, club owners, and various other players in African American communities all over the American West to participate fully in the cultural renaissance that took hold during that time.
As McGee shows, these performances reflected complex racial attitudes emerging in American culture during the first half of the twentieth century. Her analysis illuminates the heavily mediated representational strategies that jazz women adopted, highlighting the role that race played in constituting public performances of various styles of jazz from “swing” to “hot” and “sweet.” The International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Hazel Scott, the Ingenues, Peggy Lee, and Paul Whiteman are just a few of the performers covered in the book, which also includes a detailed filmography.
"Take-off?" Oh, yeah. Several all-girl bands did.
This book includes a hip swing CD.
From the Hardcover edition.