Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Because we shared the same last name my German colleagues called me Josephine, after Josephine Baker, a woman I had never heard of. Her fame did not spread to the parts of America where I lived.
Over the years I have found out who she was. I am pleased to read that she also married into the name. If you still haven't heard of her, she was an American who created a huge sensation at the Folies-Bergère in 1926 when she was only 20. There is a film of the banana dance that was the basis for her incredible fame. The French adored her.
This morning Josephine is on ARTS singing “Princess Tam Tam” while riding in a small boat. Her French is gorgeous, her dress elegant and her eyebrows razor thin in the style of the 1930’s. She led the life of a princess in France, not the life of an African-American woman in the US in the 20’s and 30’s. Her high fluttery voice wasn’t to our taste. We expect our pop singers to have a throaty, robust sound more like Edith Piaf than this more Lily Pons-like tone. Could she break suddenly into coloratura? We would not be surprised.
She was an entertainer and a war hero, a thoroughly extraordinary person, someone I feel proud to have been compared to. I should aspire to be so amusing.