Toast of the Town: The Life and Times of Sunnie Wilson

Front Cover
Wayne State University Press, 1998 - Biography & Autobiography - 200 pages
As part of the great migration of southern blacks to the north, Sunnie Wilson came to Detroit from South Carolina after graduating from college, and soon became a pillar in the local music industry. He started out as a song and dance performer, but found his niche as a local promoter of boxing and musical acts. Soon after arriving in Detroit, Wilson started emceeing shows and booking gigs at clubs. He bought restaurants, like the popular Brown Bomber Chicken Shack in Paradise Valley, and bought the Mark Twain hotel on Garfield off of Woodward to sleep on-the-rise performers not welcome at white establishments, including Duke Ellington and B. B. King. He met and made friends with musicians Cab Calloway, Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Hines, and Lionel Hampton, and still counts Joe Louis as one of his best friends. Part oral history, memoir, and biography, Toast of the Town draws from hundreds of hours of taped conversations between Sunnie Wilson and John Cohassey, as Wilson reflects on the changes in Detroit over the last sixty years. Through Sunnie Wilson's narrative, Detroit's glory age comes alive, bringing back nights at the hopping Forest Club on Hastings Street, which hosted music greats like Nat King Cole and boasted the longest bar in Michigan, and sunny afternoons at Lake Idlewild, the largest black resort in the United States that attracted thousands every weekend from all over the midwest.

What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Other editions - View all

About the author (1998)

Sunnie Wilson still lives in Detroit and remains active in the community as president of the Twentieth Century Association, a political candidacy promotions and public relations organization, and is president of the social Detroit Idelwilders Club.

John F. Cohassey is a freelance writer.

Bibliographic information