Florence Mills: Harlem Jazz Queen by Bill Egan - review by Patrick O'Connor

Patrick O'Connor

A Swift, Vivid Genius

Florence Mills: Harlem Jazz Queen


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When Florence Mills died in 1927, there was a public outpouring of grief that few performers have inspired. Over 50,000 people f3ed past her coffin at the Seventh Avenue 'funeral church', before a service at the Mother Zion African Methodist Episcopal Church on 136th Street in New York. The pavements of Harlem were packed with a crowd estimated at 200,000. One of the musicians in the band following the hearse collapsed and died of a heart attack. Hubert Fauntleroy Julian, a famous aviator nicknamed The Black Eagle, flew his plane low over the street, and, as the cort6ge moved towards Woodlawn Cemetery, he released a shower of rose petals. In the weeks that followed, Andy Razaf recorded 'All the World's Lonely, for a Little Blackbird', Eubie Blake dedicated his most famous song, 'Memories of You', to Mills, and Constant Lambert composed his 'Elegiac Blues', followed a short time after by Duke Ellington's tribute, 'Black Beauty'.

Nearly eighty years have passed

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