The Black Marilyn Monroe aka Joyce Bryant
As Black Music Month comes to a close I apologize for missing in action for the last couple of weeks I have been busy. Although we are going to end this month with a bang and more insightful information in regards to African American music. I was excited to find out about this incredible unknown diva by the name of Joyce Bryant.
Who was Joyce Bryant? She was an African American singer, actress, and civil rights activists who rose to fame during the late 1940s and early 1950s. She was known for her beautiful dark skin, silver hair, hour glass figure that was complimented by her mermaid dresses.
Nicknames: "Bronze Blond Bombshell", "The Belter," "The Black Marilyn Monroe," and "The Voice You'll Always Remember
Genres of Music: Traditional Pop, Vocal Jazz, and Gospel
Life & Career: Born in Oakland, California ( October 24, 1928) although she was raised in San Francisco, California. She was the eldest child of her family (8 children) by her parents. Joyce eloped at the age of 14 but the marriage ended on the wedding night her mother was upset because it violated her religious beliefs. Joyce relocated to Los Angeles, California to live with her cousins.
Joyce's career as a singer began in nightclubs her dresses were often skin tight and sometimes she has to be carried off stage. In addition to her incredible vocal skills she was a talented dancer and she would lose 4 pounds each time she performed onstage. Joyce's hair was naturally black yet she did not want to be upstaged by Josephine Baker at a night club, so she dyed her hair with silver radiant paint. The look was both sexy and innovative even Josephine Baker was impressed. Joyce had the "it" factor with her talent and good looks she was earning 3,500 for each gig.
Joyce was considered one of the most beautiful women in the world and appeared in many magazines especially Jet magazine.
Hit Songs Recorded: "Drunk With Love," "Love for Sale," "After You're Gone," and "It's Only Human" just to name a few.
Fame and fortune came and went her was damaged by the silver paint and she began to doubt her sexual image and became devoted to her religious upbringing. She was attacked by a fan or admirer in her dressing room for not responding to his advances. Joyce stopped enjoying her career due to corrupt business with bad management and long-term bookings. Bryant found solace with an addiction to pills . By 1955 her career ended and she owned over 60,000 in taxes. By this time she moved to Alabama and enrolled in a Seventh Day Adventist College, she eventually became an evangelist.
By the 1960s she returned to her performing career touring with foreign companies and would later serve as a vocalist coach to singers and performers such as Jennifer Holiday of "DreamGirls" and Jazz , R&B 1980s sensation Phyllis Hyman.