NAME: Valaida Snow
BIRTHDATE: c. June 2, 1903/05/09
BIRTH PLACE: Chattanooga, Tennessee
DATE OF DEATH: May 30, 1956
PLACE OF DEATH: New York, New York
FAMILY BACKGROUND: Valaida Snow was born into a family of musicians: Her mother taught Valaida, her sisters Alvaida and Hattie, and her brother, Arthur Bush, how to play multiple instruments. Valaida and all her siblings became professional musicians. Valaida married twice: first, to dancer Ananias Berry from the Berry Brothers dancing troupe and then to performer and producer Earle Edwards.
DESCRIPTION OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS:
As an actress, she debuted on Broadway in 1942 as Mandy in Eubie Blake and Noble Sissles's musical Chocolate Dandies. Later, she appeared on Broadway in Ethel Waters' show, Rhapsody in Black in 1934; she appeared in the London production of Blackbirds in 1935 with Johnny Claes and also in its Paris production. She could be seen in Liza across Europe and Russia in the 30's and was also in the Hollywood films Take It from Me in 1937, Irresistible You and L'Alibi and Pieges in 1939 with her husband Ananais Berry.
After headlining at the Apollo Theater in New York, Valaida returned to Europe and the Far East to perform. World War II had begun and Valaida was arrested by the Germans for theft and misuse of drugs. She was held for 18 months between 1940 and 1942 at Wester-Faengle, a Nazi concentration camp. She was subsequently released as an exchange prisoner in unstable health. Although this imprisonment greatly affected her physical and psychological health, she resumed performing and appeared at several prestigious engagements. It was at this time that she married producer Earl Edwards.
In the 1930's Valaida Snow's style was characterized by a contagious energy and spark. The 1940's showed a Valaida with a deep blues feeling known and admired for her tremendous breadth and depth of talent. Her rare talent was as much a curiosity as it was admired: as a woman, she was an aberration in a male dominated jazz world. She made her last performance at the Palace Theater in New York in 1956 and died that year on May 30th of a cerebral hemorrhage.
Carr, I., D. Fairweather, and B. Priestley. Jazz: The Essential Companion. 1988.Dahl, Linda. Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazzwomen. 1984.Handy, D. Antoinette. Black Women in American Bands and Orchestras. 1981DISCOGRAPHY:
Harlem Comes to London. DRG Records SW 8444 Swing, 1929-38
Orchids in Snow: The Life and Music of Valaida Snow (includes sketch)
Valaida Snow: Queen of the Trumpet (includes picture)
Presented by Lakewood Public Library