Thursday, April 23, 2015

Everyone has a story (Alice Barker)

Everyone has a story to tell.

Alice Barker was a chorus line dancer during the Harlem Renaissance. Throughout the 1930s and 40s she performed in venues like The Apollo and the Cotton Club alongside music legends Frank Sinatra, Gene Kelly, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and more.

Though she danced in countless movies, commercials and TV shows Alice never had an opportunity to see any of her work. Until her friends got their hands on three Soundies with the help of jazz archivist Mark Cantor at Celluloid Impressions.    

Alice watching herself perform all those years ago (she recently celebrated her 102nd birthday!) is the most precious thing ever. Uploaded only three days ago, the video's gone viral and has already been viewed more than four million times -- making Alice an instant YouTube sensation.   
"How did it feel seeing yourself?" someone in the room asks her. 

"Making me wish I could get out of this bed and do it all over again," Alice says. "I used to often say to myself, 'I am being paid to do something I enjoy doing and I would do it for free, because it just felt so good doing it.' Because that music, you know, I just get carried away in it."

I noticed in the YouTube notes an address where fans can send Alice cards and words of encouragement. What a wonderful idea: 

Alice Barker
c/o Bishop Henry B. Hucles Episcopal Nursing Home
835 Herkimer Street
Brooklyn, New York 11233

We love you, Alice!!

Harlem Renaissance painter William Henry Johnson.