So talented a singer was Josephine Baker that she was the main inspiration for Shirley Bassey. So striking and hypnotic in her dancing performances and style was she that she became the muse to countless artists including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pablo Picasso and Christian Dior – and Ernest Hemmingway who described her as “… the most sensational woman anyone ever saw.”
So socially and politically minded was she that she she was recruited as a spy for the allied forces, using her celebrity status to smuggle vital information crucial to the French resistance during the German occupation of France in WW2. So sharp was her civil consciousness that after Martin Luther King’s death, his wife approached Josephine with the request that she take King’s place as the leader of the movement. Such a responsible family figurehead was she that she turned it down in protest that her children ‘…were too young to lose their mother.’
She had 12 adopted children from multi-ethnic backgrounds which she named her “Rainbow Tribe” – Angelina Jolie has nothing on her!
For these reasons alone there need be no further argument as to why Josephine is this week’s sassy bearcat. More than her style – her presence alone seemed to radiate what the jazz hopes to emulate even to the minutest degree; an embracing of oneself and others around you. She exudes the carefree liberal nature of the 20s and glamour of the 30s, crazying up her stage outfits with huge feather hats (or nothing at all!) and accompanied at all times by her pet cheeta who sometimes escaped and terrorized the audience.
What a woman; especially bearing in mind aged 12 she was sleeping rough in the slums of St Louis, scavenging from bins and dancing on street corners. Well, we certainly think she’s some woman. And with a single glance at her infamous Banana Dance – her confident and outlandish character wouldn’t give two hoots if you disagreed…