Black History Month at Fashion Poetics: Celebrating black women of unusual style and poetic conviction
Joyce Bryant: Actress and Singer
Known as the “The Bronze Blond Bombshell” for her silver-tinted hair, Joyce Bryant was a singer and actress beginning in the 1950’s. She was known for her distinctive glamorous persona, combining furs and shimmering mermaid-cut gowns with a sultry voice, provocative lyrics, and a soaring four-octave-range. Touring through the American south as a singer, she became impassioned about the treatment of southern black citizens, especially those living in poverty or poor health, and she organized fundraising performances for their benefit. Bryant was also an acquaintance of Martin Luther King, Jr., supporting the larger Civil Rights Movement, and lobbying her fellow entertainers to boycott Jim Crow laws. She became increasingly religious later in her life and shed her bombshell image, but came to be disillusioned with the church’s silence on civil rights matters. Bryant ended her long career as an opera singer, performing with the New York City Opera and touring the world with European opera companies. A woman of bravery, élan, and conviction, Bryant was a complex diva.
Image Credit: Philippe Halsman