Welcome to Lady Be Bop, a blog on women in music and popular culture. All music is fair game here, but I’ll spend most of my time discussing jazz, in particular jazz vocalists. I love the great ladies of song: Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Anita O’Day, Nina Simone, and more recently the likes of Dee Dee Bridgewater and Dianne Reeves. And I’m fascinated by the music they created, the lives they lead, and the challenges they encountered along the way.
The title, Lady Be Bop, is an homage of sorts to George Gershwin’s classic “Oh, Lady Be Good.” It’s a play on words that captures both the focus of this blog, women in jazz, as well as the balancing act that all female performers must master. Being a lady. And being an artist. Both ideals are rife with cultural baggage and expectations, and far too often these ideals have been at odds with one another. This blog explores this tension and how performers, of both the past and present, have walked this tricky tight rope.
I’m a musicologist – so this blog will include plenty of reflections on jazz’s musical past. But I’m also a cultural critic fascinated with how narratives of race, gender, and class endure. How the past informs the present, or as Shirley Bassey so memorably sang: “History Repeating.” With that in mind, this blog will also be home to my musings on popular culture, contemporary artists, and the parallels I see between past and present. Finally, I’m a woman writing about women who create music, and much like the women I write about, I lend a unique voice to this material – one that I hope you will enjoy.