Footnotes Footnotes


The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way

    • 5.0 • 3 Ratings
    • $12.99
    • $12.99

Publisher Description

The triumphant story of how an all-Black Broadway cast and crew changed musical theatre—and the world—forever.

"This musical introduced Black excellence to the Great White Way. Broadway was forever changed and we, who stand on the shoulders of our brilliant ancestors, are charged with the very often elusive task of carrying that torch into our present."—Billy Porter, Tony, Grammy, and Emmy Award-winning actor

If Hamilton, Rent, or West Side Story captured your heart, you'll love this in-depth look into the rise of the 1921 Broadway hit, Shuffle Along, the first all-Black musical to succeed on Broadway. No one was sure if America was ready for a show featuring nuanced, thoughtful portrayals of Black characters—and the potential fallout was terrifying. But from the first jazzy, syncopated beats of composers Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake, New York audiences fell head over heels.

Footnotes is the story of how Sissle and Blake, along with comedians Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles, overcame poverty, racism, and violence to harness the energy of the Harlem Renaissance and produce a runaway Broadway hit that launched the careers of many of the twentieth century's most beloved Black performers. Born in the shadow of slavery and establishing their careers at a time of increasing demands for racial justice and representation for people of color, they broke down innumerable barriers between Black and white communities at a crucial point in our history.

Author and pop culture expert Caseen Gaines leads readers through the glitz and glamour of New York City during the Roaring Twenties to reveal the revolutionary impact one show had on generations of Americans, and how its legacy continues to resonate today.

Praise for Footnotes:

"A major contribution to culture."—Brian Jay Jones, New York Times bestselling author of Jim Henson: The Biography

"With meticulous research and smooth storytelling, Caseen Gaines significantly deepens our understanding of one of the key cultural events that launched the Harlem Renaissance."—A Lelia Bundles, New York Times bestselling author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker

"Absorbing..."—The Wall Street Journal

May 21
Sourcebooks, Inc.

Customer Reviews

Taran1985 ,

This book is essential.

I majored in theatre in college and I hardly knew anything that was in this book. I got out my old textbook after receiving Footnotes. That book mentioned Shuffle Along in passing on a few pages out of 800, but did not give the impression that the show was as significant as it was. Footnotes corrects the relegation of Shuffle Along to a minor event and puts the focus squarely on this show and the people who made it such a significant milestone at the time. But it does not read like a textbook. Caseen Gaines is able to make the reader invest in Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake, Flournoy Miller and Aubrey Lyles from the startling opening lines. Lesser writers make history feel irrelevant and static, removed from the concerns of the present time. Gaines makes you really care about these people and their creation, eliminating the time barrier between then and now and making this story feel vital, present and alive while you are reading it. It should be hard to hard to make the audience care about a show no one alive now was around to see, but Gaines does with that seeming ease. The book is extensively researched and maintains academic rigor without sacrificing easy readability and pure emotion.

Gaines named the book Footnotes because the success described a hundred years ago has been relegated to such now in the world's collective memory. But this book should hopefully help render its title inaccurate. It is an inspiring story of creative humans working together to create powerful theatre which is now coming out at a time when theatre has been shut down for the longest intermission ever. It also serves as a reminder of how powerful theatre can be and why it is so important for theatre to represent and reflect all cultures. No one who works in theatre or cares about it should miss this book. I don't have a bad word to say about it. Absolutely recommended!

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