Tuesday, 20 January 2009

The caged bird sings

As the world's media goes into a frenzy over the inauguration of Barack Obama, and dear old Maya Angelou is wheeled out to give some pearls of wisdom (Read her Notes to a President on the BBC website), I feel it isn't my place go into the deeper significance of this momentous occasion. Many others will say it much better than I.

Suffice to say that the election of America's first black president is indeed a sea-change in the history of the so-called "Land of the Free". And this tiny example of the early career of Maya Angelou herself can only serve to illustrate the fact. For back in the 1950s, when Calypso music was a new craze, it is a little-known fact that Maya was a successful singer of that genre. I recently acquired her album Miss Calypso, and it is really good!

However, when it came to portraying this typically black style of music, what did Hollywood do? Why, produce a practically all-white film to celebrate it, of course... Shocking really, but it just goes to show how times have really changed:

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