International Sweethearts of Rhythm: America's Hottest All-Girl Band and Tiny & Ruby: Hell Divin' Women | Chicago Reader

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The International Sweethearts of Rhythm were a female, mostly black jazz band that started out as a high school combo in Mississippi in 1937 and flourished during World War II, and their fascinating story buoys these two straightforward documentaries by Andrea Weiss and Greta Schiller (The Man Who Drove With Mandela). In International Sweethearts of Rhythm: America's Hottest All-Girl Band (1988, 30 min.) vocalist-leader Anna Mae Winburn and other surviving members reminisce about the racially mixed band, backed up by archival photos and performance footage showing a brass-heavy, rhythm-oriented group with as much verve as its all-male counterparts. Tiny & Ruby: Hell Divin' Women (1988, 30 min.) focuses on two former members who've been companions for decades, trumpeter Tiny Davis and drummer Ruby Lucas; their bawdy voice-overs are far more telling than the insipid interview segments. On the same program, a rare “soundie” of the band.

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