Swing Shift: “All-Girl” Bands of the 1940s
The forgotten history of the “all-girl” big bands of the World War II era takes center stage in Sherrie Tucker’s Swing Shift. American demand for swing skyrocketed with the onslaught of war as millions—isolated from loved ones—sought diversion, comfort, and social contact through music and dance. Although all-female jazz and dance bands had existed since the 1920s, now hundreds of such groups, both African American and white, barnstormed ballrooms, theaters, dance halls, military installations, and makeshift USO stages on the home front and abroad.
Filled with firsthand accounts of more than a hundred women who performed during this era and complemented by thorough—and eye-opening—archival research, Swing Shift not only offers a history of this significant aspect of American society and culture but also examines how and why whole bands of dedicated and talented women musicians were dropped from—or never inducted into—our national memory. Tucker’s nuanced presentation reveals who these remarkable women were, where and when they began to play music, and how they navigated a sometimes wild and bumpy road—including their experiences with gas and rubber rationing, travel restrictions designed to prioritize transportation for military needs, and Jim Crow laws and other prejudices. She explains how the expanded opportunities brought by the war, along with sudden increased publicity, created the illusion that all female musicians—no matter how experienced or talented—were “Swing Shift Maisies,” 1940s slang for the substitutes for the “real” workers (or musicians) who were away in combat. Comparing the working conditions and public representations of women musicians with figures such as Rosie the Riveter, WACs, USO hostesses, pin-ups, and movie stars, Tucker chronicles the careers of such bands as the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Phil Spitalny’s Hours of Charm, The Darlings of Rhythm, and the Sharon Rogers All-Girl Band.
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Swing shift: "all-girl" bands of the 1940sUser Review - Not Available - Book Verdict
Tucker, who teaches women's studies at Hobart and William Smith colleges and writes the "Jazzwomen Jam" column for Jazz Now magazine, masterfully shows how instrumental "all-girl" bands were in ... Read full review
I Playing the Changes of World War II
II Road Hazards
III USOCamp Shows
Postwar Changes Familiar Refrains
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Ada Leonard African American All-American Girls all-girl bands all-woman bands American women audiences band’s bandleader big band Billie Holiday black press black women Chicago Defender Clora Bryant color combo Cron dance band Darlings of Rhythm difﬁcult drummer entertainment femininity feminist ﬁeld ﬁgure ﬁlm ﬁnd ﬁrst gender girl band girl musicians Girl Orchestra Helen Jones Woods hired Hour of Charm included International Sweethearts interview with author jazz jazz and swing Jim Crow letter to author Mae Wong men’s bands ofﬁcers patriotic performance Phil Spitalny played police popular Prairie View Co-Eds race racial recalled reﬂected Rosie the Riveter saxophonist second wave segregated sexual Sharon Rogers soldiers solos Soundies Spitalny Spitalny’s story Sweethearts of Rhythm swing bands telephone interview tenor Theater tion tour trumpet player USO–Camp Shows Violet Wilson white members white women Willie Mae Wong Wilson woman womanhood women musicians women’s bands women’s music World