Perhaps it’s a small thing to write about, to draw your attention to, but I find this just another indication of pervasive ignorance.  I was on eBay and saw an autograph of Rex Stewart for sale — which cheered me:

REX autograph

But the heading which the seller created did not: VINTAGE AUTOGRAPH OF BLACK ENTERTAINER & COMEDIAN REX STEWART!

The exclamation point is the seller’s, not mine.

I’ve seen Rex in HELLZAPOPPIN’ and listened to hundreds of his recordings, and always found him entertaining . . . and it’s true he plays a comic, somewhat demeaning role in the film, what audiences of the time might have called “a colored cook.”  But he was always a proud man, and I suspect he would have bristled at being characterized in this way.

Why not MUSICIAN?  Why not ARTIST?

And if you want to discuss  how cultural expectations have shifted over the past half-century, that is of course true — but, by the same token, the seller exists in 2015, not 1941.

I don’t know if it’s a subtle racial slur, or just evidence of someone who has not bothered to do three minutes of research, but it is irksome.  Rex, I apologize to you for people like this.

May your happiness increase!

5 responses to “HOW ABOUT “MUSICIAN”?

  1. Andrew J. Sammut

    If you believe in karma, your post has evened out the universe in terms of specificity as well as affection for the subject. Well done!

  2. Typically ebay – a listing not researched. Happens many times there on a daily basis.

  3. I’m with you. Couldn’t agree more. Very well stated.


    WEMU 50 Linda Yohn 89 1 WEMU Music Director 734-487-2229 Celebrating 50 years of community public radio with jazz, news, blues and NPR.

  4. Hey it could have been worse:

    “Fake Alligator accompanied by BLACK ENTERTAINER & COMEDIAN REX STEWART”

    For the real deal, go here:

  5. Michael P. Zirpolo

    Many years ago when I was in Manhattan, I took the phone book that was in my hotel room (white pages only), and began looking up the names of musicians I admired. As I recall, after about an hour, I had found many familiar names, but no designation next to the names that these people were musicians. There were two exceptions: Leonard Bernstein and Doc Cheatham.

    Today we have more information than ever within easy reach, yet seem to be less informed. I haven’t figured that out yet.

    Michael P. Zirpolo,
    “Mr. Trumpet…the Trials, Tribulations
    and Triumph of Bunny Berigan”

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