We’ve been waiting for Juneteenth to roll around again, ever since it was made a federal holiday last year (An Act to Amend Title 5, United States Code, to Designate Juneteenth National Independence Day as a Legal Public Holiday). This weekend we hope for good weather, joyful celebration, and an opportunity to reflect on the work that still remains to be done in the US around racial equity.
This weekend, why not give a listen to two versions of “Juneteenth Jamboree”, selected for us by our very own Stephen (of INSIST! fame).
Our first version comes to us from Gladys Bentley (1907-1960), a gender-non-conforming lesbian who unapologetically sang in speakeasies in Harlem and made her own way in the world.
For more on race and sexuality in Harlem, and on Gladys herself, check out Bulldaggers, pansies, and chocolate babies : performance, race, and sexuality in the Harlem Renaissance by James F. Wilson.
Then we have this amazing recording of Louis Jordan (1908-1975), complete with some serious dance moves. Jordan cut across genres, and changed the face of music and R&B forever. Read more about Jordan in Louis Jordan: son of Arkansas father of R&B by Stephen Koch (find it in the library here), or explore more of his contributions to musical history with the Platinum Collection, streaming online through Duke Libraries.