Black Diva of the Thirties: The Life of Ruby Elzy by David E. Weaver

By David E. Weaver

While present process regimen surgical procedure to take away a benign tumor, Ruby Elzy died. She used to be basically thirty-five. Had she lived, she may were one of many first black artists to seem in grand opera.

Although now within the shadows, she used to be a shining megastar in her day. She entertained Eleanor Roosevelt within the White apartment. She was once Paul Robeson's prime woman within the motion picture model of The Emperor Jones. She co-starred in Birth of the Blues contrary Bing Crosby and Mary Martin. She sang at Harlem's Apollo Theater and within the Hollywood Bowl. Her extraordinary soprano voice used to be recognized to hundreds of thousands over the radio. She used to be in my opinion selected through George Gershwin to create one of many prime roles in his masterpiece, that of Serena within the unique creation of Porgy and Bess. Her signature track used to be the vocally tough "My Man's long past Now."

From obscurity she had risen to nice heights. Ruby Pearl Elzy (1908-1943) used to be born in abject poverty in Pontotoc, Mississippi. Her father deserted the kinfolk whilst she was once 5, leaving her mom, a robust, religious lady, to elevate 4 babies. Ruby first sang publicly on the age of 4 or even in adolescence dreamed of a profession at the level. luck struck while a vacationing professor, beaten upon listening to her appealing voice at Rust university in Mississippi, prepared for her to check tune at Ohio country college. Later, on a Rosenwald Fellowship, she enrolled on the Juilliard institution in big apple urban.

After greater than 800 performances in Porgy and Bess, she set her points of interest on an enormous target, to sing in grand opera. She used to be on the top of her shape. whereas she was once getting ready for her debut within the identify function of Verdi's Aida, tragedy struck.

During her short profession, Ruby Elzy was once within the most sensible tier of yankee sopranos and a precursor who paved a manner for Leontyne cost, Jessye Norman, Kathleen conflict, and different black divas of the operatic level. This biography recognizes her unheard of expertise, acknowledges her contribution to American song, and tells her tragic but inspiring story.

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Extra info for Black Diva of the Thirties: The Life of Ruby Elzy

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Ruby entered the parlor, neatly dressed in the simple school uniform she’d worn at Rust College. Once again accompanied by Mrs. McCracken, Ruby began by singing several spirituals. Hughes closed his eyes as he listened to her. When Ruby finished her second 36 stumbling upward song, Hughes smiled and nodded his approval to McCracken. But the smile left his face when Ruby announced her next selection—the “Shadow Song,” an aria in French from the Meyerbeer opera Dinorah. Hughes turned to Dr. McCracken and whispered, “Impossible.

It needs to be nurtured and developed. She loves to sing more than anything else in the world. ” The headmistresses in the E. L. Rust Industrial Home for Girls were two matronly, no-nonsense Methodist women named Rebecca Barbour and Ella Becker. As they saw it, there were three major obstacles to Ruby being able to attend Rust. First, of course, was the age issue—Ruby was four years younger than the minimum age of fifteen usually required of incoming students. Second, the Elzy family had almost no money to help support Ruby and all the expenses she would incur at Rust— tuition, books, supplies, room and board.

Afterwards Ruby and Miss Becker went upstairs to see the room where Ruby would be staying. Once they were alone, Dr. McCracken turned to his wife. Cleo McCracken was a conservatory-trained musician who, in addition to being a fine accompanist, had heard many of the great singers of the day in person. ” McCracken asked her. “I’ve never heard such a voice in my life,” she said. Dr. McCracken smiled. Ruby had passed her first important test. But all was not well when Ella Becker came back downstairs.

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