MUSIC OF THE SOUTH – Parts 2 & 3

Here with the middle section of the 1956 documentary “Music Of the South”, a pioneering work on the orgins of jazz. If this post is your first find on the subject, simply scroll down to the previous post for an explanation of the films history. It’s director was my father (he still is), Frank De Felitta, and his is the only print of the film extant.

A reader named Ed made a very good point in a comment he left. That CBS had no problems showing the black workers in the field, but that the band they hired at the top of the program was an all-white one. According to my father, CBS wasn’t exactly sanguine with the blacks depicted in the film. Or at least the wife of the President wasn’t. Shortly after the airing of the film, he heard through the office grapevine that Babe Paley–wife of William S. Paley–complained to her husband about showing “ugly” people on the air and how he would lose viewership as a result. I’m not sure how the network founder and president received this comment but one year later CBS aired “The Sound Of Jazz”, which not only featured black musicians but featured a “mixed” band–something that had been common in clubs since the thirties (when Lionel Hampton and Teddy Wilson played with Benny Goodman) but which television was still coming to grips with, no doubt due to sponsorship issues and the southern United States. At the same as all of this, “The Nat King Cole Show” was breaking down the barrier that a black man could host his own show–one that featured white artists, that is. That show debuted in 1956, the same year as this film was made–but he was NBC’s problem. Perhaps Babe Paley advised her husband to pass on the show for CBS… 


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