Roy C. Nelson
Rhapsody in Black (Ethel Waters,
Musically High, Spiritually Low)”
Chicago Daily News
8 January 1932
James Weldon Johnson Memorial Collection
After making her mark in shows such as Africana (1927) and Lew Leslie’s famous Blackbirds (1930), Waters appeared in Rhapsody in Black, another Leslie production, which was said to be a “symphony of blue notes and black rhythm.” Though it opened to mixed reviews in New York in 1931, Waters was praised for her “excellent numbers,” which included “You Can’t Stop Me From Lovin’ You” and “Where’s My Prince Charming?” and she was singled out for her performance: “quite naturally she is the high spot.”1 As a result of this show, which enjoyed a successful run in Chicago the following year, Waters “crashed into the higher salary brackets, averaging some $2000 a week,”2 a figure that made her one of the highest paid women in the theater at that time.