Tag Archives: Ma Rainey

Stringbeans May and the Birth of the Blues in Black Vaudeville

Click below for this week’s story, or navigate the city through the search bar or the direction buttons at the top of the page:

Just before his neck was broken in Jacksonville, Butler “Stringbeans” May was the hottest Black entertainer in the country. He’d just turned 23. Critics called him “eccentric” and “smutty.” It was Stringbeans who made the Blues first rise in Black Vaudeville, but he never recorded and never copyrighted his hits. Details of his death remain a mystery.

The Clara White Mission Remains the Humanitarian Heart of Jax

Click below for the full story:

If the goodness, kindness, and mercy enacted in a particular building, on a certain quadrant of earth, can accrue across the years, then the Clara White Mission should be a pilgrimage site and 613 Ashley Street in LaVilla is sacred ground.


At the turn of 1974, Eartha was the tiny, bird-like, Old-Testament-but-New-Testament saint at the center of town. She died in January. I was born in June. I so wish I could have met her.


When I saw Eartha White look out at me from the open doors of Roosevelt Watson III’s major artwork, I saw her as I’d never seen her but also as she’d visited me, angelically and ghostly, when I’d most needed to find her before.