Friday, April 24, 2009

THE HORN SECTION Salutes: Nina Mae McKinney (1912-1967)

Before there was Dorothy Dandridge, even before there was Lena Horne....Hell, fully a decade before there was Lena Horne...there was the beautiful and talented Nina Mae McKinney.

Her second film, 1931's SAFE IN HELL, was Number 24 in the "Why the Hell isn't this on DVD yet?" series last May. While playing the non-stereotypical role of the hotel manager--very rare for a black actress in 1931--McKinney also offered a playful rendition of "Sleepy Time Down South"---incidentally, co-written by her SAFE IN HELL co-star, Clarence Muse. Muse was a longtime actor, director, writer and composer who was still working 45 years later in CAR WASH and who has a cafe theatre named after him right here in Dallas at 650 South Griffin Street.

The clip above offers another opportunity to enjoy Ms. McKinney's singing talents. From the 1932 short, "Pie Pie Blackbird", she sings "Everything I've Got Belongs to You", accompanied by Eubie Blake's orchestra. For more of Ms. McKinney, check out her later films, SANDERS ON THE RIVER and DEVIL'S DAUGHTER. More reviews to come....

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