International Sweethearts of Rhythm on Big Band Boulevard

Jan 30, 2020

Credit National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution

Big Band Boulevard

Program #27 (February 2, 2020 at 6 p.m.)

Big Band and swing tunes from the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and more.

In the 1940s, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm fought a two-front war: gender on one side, Jim Crow on the other. When they were rediscovered by academics in the '70s and '80s, it was not in music programs but Women's Studies departments, where they were more important as political symbols than working musicians.

To the Sweethearts, however, it was always about the music. For nearly a decade, these 17 ladies crisscrossed America by sleeper bus, generating excitement and often breaking records set by the big name man-bands. But sex cut two ways: Audiences saw women and expected a novelty, not a jazz band. Just a handful of recordings survive, most from Armed Forces radio broadcasts.

(npr.org - All Things Considered)