12 Songs, 32 Minutes

TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

4.8 out of 5
19 Ratings
19 Ratings
Giggymcriggy ,

The Worlds Best Entertainer

That was Al Jolson title that no one can reclaim and this album explains.

Mr. O.B.G.(Oldies But Goodies) ,

Al Jolson

Al Jolson rocks! I'm an oldies but goodies guy, Elvis, The Beatles, you get the picture. Really, give this guy a listen.

Gropius ,

The American Dream

Al Jolson lived "The American Dream." Born in Lithuania, Jolson rose through the ranks of vaudeville as a comedian and a blackface "Mammy" singer. By 1920, he had become the biggest star on Broadway, but he is probably best remembered for his film career. He starred in THE JAZZ SINGER (1927), the first talking movie ever made, and his legend was assured in 1946 with the release of the successful biography of his life called THE JOLSON STORY. Jolson was the first openly Jewish man to become an entertainment star in America. His marginal status as a Jew informed his blackface portrayal of Southern blacks. Almost single-handedly, Jolson helped to introduce African-American musical innovations like jazz, ragtime, and the blues to white audiences. The brightest star of the first half of the 20th century, Jolson was eternally grateful for the opportunities America had given him. He tirelessly entertained American troops in World War II and in the Korean War, and he contributed time and money to the March of Dimes and other philanthropic causes. While some of his colleagues in show business complained about his inflated ego, he certainly deserved his moniker: "The World's Greatest Entertainer.

Al Jolson was to jazz, blues, and ragtime what Elvis Presley was to rock 'n' roll. Jolson had first heard African-American music in New Orleans in 1905, and he performed it for the rest of his life. Like Elvis, Jolson gyrated his lower body as he danced. In THE JAZZ SINGER, white viewers saw Jolson moving his hips and waist in ways that they had never seen before. Historian and performer Stephen Hanan has written in TIKKUN that Jolson's "funky rhythm and below-the-waist gyrations (not seen again from any white male till the advent of Elvis) were harbingers of the sexual liberation of the new urban era. Jolson was a rock star before the dawn of rock music." Al Jolson paved the way for African-American performers like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and Ethel Waters. It is remarkable that a Jewish mamma's boy from Lithuania could do so much to bridge the cultural gap between black and white America.

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