Rosa Henderson

Women in Ragtime

        When attempting to look up information on women singers and performers of the Ragtime era, you will notice that there is not much of it. This is probably due to the fact that the places where bands and singers performed at, such as dancehalls and parlors, were looked at as immoral for women to be at, even if you were a performer. During the time of Ragtime, the lifestyle that performers lived was surrounded by liquor, drugs, gambling and prostitution so to see a woman involved in such activities would result in the questioning of her morals and standards as a woman. This would obviously make it very hard to be widely-known as a woman musician during this time, especially for a black woman. 

Ragtime Origin

        Ragtime officially originated in 1896, and was defined by its unique performance style that eventually led to the creation of jazz music. Ben Harney was said to be the originator of ragtime but African Americans were said to have transformed, shaped and popularized this new style that consisted of song, dance, and syncopated instrumental music. Some of the dances included the cakewalk which was “a couples dance originated by slaves in North America around the early 1900’s” (Erica Taylor, https://youtu.be/DR8QQ4GOt-s). 

Who was Rosa Henderson?

       Rosa Henderson was known as one of the “great female blues singers of the 1920’s and 1930’s” but also recorded and performed jazz music as well. She was born in Kentucky in 1896, just as the beginning of the Ragtime era evolved and her career as an entertainer began in 1913. Soon she began performing and was accompanied by bands such as  Fletcher Henderson’s Jazz Five and the Kansas City Four. Early on in her career she got the chance to perform on numerous Broadway productions in New York and in places such as London. Throughout her career in the 1920’s and 30’s, she was said to have recorded over 100 tracks for many recording companies. Her fame was short lived even though she continued on performing every once in a while but her impact during her time was amazing. 

       Rosa Henderson was known as one of the “great female blues singers of the 1920’s and 1930’s” but also recorded and performed jazz music as well. She was born in Kentucky in 1896, just as the beginning of the Ragtime era evolved and her career as an entertainer began in 1913. Soon she began performing and was accompanied by bands such as  Fletcher Henderson’s Jazz Five and the Kansas City Four.

     Early on in her career she got the chance to perform on numerous Broadway productions in New York and in places such as London. Throughout her career in the 1920’s and 30’s, she was said to have recorded over 100 tracks for many recording companies. Her fame was short lived even though she continued on performing every once in a while but her impact during her time was amazing. https://music.fandom.com/wiki/Rosa_Henderson 

Personally, Rosa Henderson’s voice was very unique but still fit well with the era she was included in. She had the perfect voice for jazz and blues. I really enjoyed discovering her music but I wish there was more information on her career and life for me to dig deeper into. She was said to have recorded plenty of songs with various people and recording companies so there should be plenty of information on her as a person and performer. Overall, I still thoroughly loved the sound of her music and voice. 

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