Two months ago, I wrote a piece for EBONY.com titled, “Dorothy Forever,” in which I reflected on the late Dorothy Dandridge and why she deserves more credit than she gets. I admire Dorothy, but I’m also aware that plenty of other black singers and actresses who paved the way for women of color today. So, I thought it would be fun to start a series of posts dedicated to ALL the black female icons who played in a significant role not only in black America but in American culture as well.
Billie Holiday April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959
- In 1937, Billie Holiday worked with Artie Shaw and his orchestra becoming one of the first female African-American vocalists to work with a white orchestra.
- Nicknamed as “Lady Day,” Holiday was considered one of the best and most influential jazz singers of all time.
Pam Grier May 26, 1949- still alive and kicking butt while looking fabulous!
- Pam Grier made her name in the 1970s by starring in blaxploitation films with her most notable roles being in “Foxy Brown” and “Coffy.”
- By the late ’90s, Grier appeared to have reached the end of her career. But in 1997, she made a comeback by starring in the Quentin Taratino film, “Jackie Brown.” Grier received rave reviews and earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress for her performance.
Eartha Kitt January 17, 1927 – December 25, 2008
- Eartha Kitt was one of the few performers to be nominated for a Tony Award (three times), Grammy Award(twice) and Emmy Award (twice).
- In 1967, Kitt made her mark on pop culture as the infamous “Catwoman” in the television series, “Batman.” Her trademark purr became imitated worldwide.
Stay tuned next week for part 4 of the “Bow Down … Dedicated to ALL Those Who Came Before Us ” series.