Evelyn Dove

Britain’s Black Cabaret Queen
Jacaranda Books, 2016


Born in London to a Sierra Leonean father and an English mother, Evelyn Dove (1902-1987) embraced the worlds of jazz, musical theatre and, most importantly, cabaret, in a career spanning five decades from the 1920s through to the 1960s. A black British diva with movie star looks, she captivated audiences and admirers around the world. During World War II she enjoyed the same appeal as the ‘Forces Sweetheart’ Vera Lynn. Refusing to be constrained by her race or middle-class West African and English backgrounds, she would perform for infamous Russian leader, Joseph Stalin; become a regular vocalist for the BBC and a celebrated performer across continental Europe, India and the USA. At the height of her fame in the 1930s she replaced Josephine Baker as the star attraction in a revue at the Casino de Paris and scandalized her family by appearing on stage semi-nude. This is a celebration of an extraordinary career punctuated with vertiginous highs and profound lows, and places Dove in a historical context with many artists of her time, such as Adelaide Hall, Elisabeth Welch, Dame Cleo Laine and Dame Shirley Bassey.