The topic of this book may seem unusual to some since there may be those who believe that Puerto Rican women may not have entered the jazz milieu during its early history. Nevertheless, an aim of the book is to dispel this and other false generalizations. The contents of this volume will document how Puerto Rican women were not only present in early jazz but how they played trailblazing and innovative roles and contributed to the emergence of the genre in the States and abroad.
This work will present information that is confirmable through a variety of sources. The book may not be the definitive work on the subject but will serve as a starting point to:
-document the success and achievement of several Puerto Rican women from the jazz age
-consider the different strategies used for success in jazz and film by women
-illustrate the evolution of various careers
-consider the different personal circumstances under which success was achieved
-consider how women in contemporary jazz and film can learn from their predecessors
-provide women: older, young, and youthful, examples of success with documentary evidence on how to achieve
The book is organized into sections that cover a brief history of significant Puerto Rican women in music and the performing arts followed by biographical descriptions of pioneering women in jazz and film. The book also contains a brief discussion on Puerto Rican women in jazz today followed by a discussion surrounding issues affecting women in the arts today. Throughout the text there is commentary on the situations facing women, especially, male chauvinism, colonialism, racism, and anti-women prejudice in jazz. Every effort was made to include only facts that are easily confirmable. Unsupported tales or questionable events are avoided to ensure that the material contained in the volume can be used for teaching purposes and for curriculum development when credit is given to this work.
In the process of developing the central theme of this volume, special effort was made to document those experiences where Puerto Rican women collaborate with members of the African American community to confirm how the cross-cultural collaboration resulted beneficial to both ethnic peoples. The book will detail the many instances where members of the African-American community assisted the fledgling Puerto Rican artists achieve success and stardom. Figures such as Helen Elise Smith, David J. Martin, Will Marion Cook, Ada ‘Bricktop’ Smith, Dr. Laurence Clifton Jones, and other distinguished African-Americans are described. My hope is that this information will be added to historic works in African-American Studies.