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Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (Maya Angelou's Autobiography #3)

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  4,633 Ratings  ·  156 Reviews
In this third self-contained volume of her autobiography, which began with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou moves into the adult world, and the white world as well, as she marries, enters show business, and tours Europe and Africa in Porgy and Bess.

As the book opens, Maya, in order to support herself and her young son, gets a job in a record shop run by a whit
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Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 13th 1997 by Random House (first published 1976)
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The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo LeeI Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya AngelouBird of Paradise by Raquel CepedaAlmost a Woman by Esmeralda SantiagoWhen I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago
Non Fiction/Memoirs by Women of Color
25th out of 58 books — 8 voters
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. SalingerThe Help by Kathryn StockettThe Grapes of Wrath by John SteinbeckTo Kill a Mockingbird by Harper LeeOf Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Slice of Americana
37th out of 46 books — 26 voters


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Community Reviews

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Eman
Jan 11, 2016 Eman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


This is Maya Angelou's third book of her autobiography series; Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas.. Whoa, now that's some seriously long title. And now we get to know how Marguerite Johnson became Maya Angelou. This book is weighed down by all her trips with Porgy and Bess and the budding fame that she'd earned. Still, I enjoyed each situation she'd got herself into.

Despite being a parent already and her relationships history, I quite think that she was still a child then, bu
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Karen
Apr 20, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it
This was the first of Maya Angelou's autobiographies that I'd read - somehow I never read the first one, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, but I'll definitely go back and read that and the others now. I was initially attracted to this one because of the show business theme - I was interested to read about her experiences touring with Porgy and Bess. Those sections were, in fact, very interesting. But there is much more to the book than that. Angelou describes moving from her relatively insulated ...more
Donna
Oct 31, 2009 Donna rated it liked it
As described in her third autobiography, Angelou married Greek sailor Tosh Angelos in 1952; the marriage ended in divorce after three years. Up to that point, she called herself "Marguerite Johnson", or "Rita", but changed her professional name to "Maya Angelou" when her managers at San Francisco nightclub The Purple Onion strongly suggested that she adopt a "more theatrical" name that captured the feel of her Calypso dance performances.
In the late 1950s, she joined the Harlem Writers Guild, whe
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Urenna Sander
Dec 28, 2009 Urenna Sander rated it it was amazing
Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas,” is a fascinating account of Ms. Maya Angelou’s autobiography. And it is only the third volume of five!
In the 1950s, unmarried, in her twenties, and the mother of a young son, she meets her first husband, a Greek American, while working as a salesclerk in a record store, in California. But unfortunately, because of her husband’s controlling behavior and atheism, their marriage ends after a year.
If she was disappointed by the breakup, she do
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Riya
Feb 02, 2013 Riya rated it liked it
Whew! I am done!

I feel like it took me forever to finish reading this book, and folks, this is not a good sign.

I do feel conflicted. I feel like I should give this a 2.5 because there were so many parts in this book that were dull and uninteresting and if I wouldn't have skimmed through those pages I would've never finished reading this book. But then this is the writing of world famous and much admired Maya Angelou, so I feel compelled to round the rating up to a 3.

While Ms. Angelou's first tw
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Joyce
May 28, 2013 Joyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This woman blows me away with her honesty, sharing her struggle to grow into the magnificent woman and writer she is today.


I was shocked and surprised at many of her stories and humbled.


Her first 3 autobiographies gave me a view I didn't understand before of what it was and is like to be black in America. These books should be assigned reading in school.

With each famous person I read about, again and again, I am reminded that the person they became was not how they started out nor is it the wh
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Abby
Feb 22, 2016 Abby rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebook
This one was super difficult to put down with her descriptions of travel and life abroad. Anxious to read part 4.
Vorbis
Jun 15, 2015 Vorbis rated it liked it
I didn't fall in love with this one, although I appreciate her honesty and insights as always.

In ways the previous books hadn't this brought home to me how very constant the author's awareness is of her colour. It's not just actions of racism, subtle or overt, it's the constant awareness and being on the lookout for it. I was torn between not being able to imagine having that sort of weight on my consciousness constantly, and of starting to feel like it was something I was not actually invited
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Monica (The World thru my Eyes BLOG)
Once again, miss Maya Angelou managed to enchant my world
This woman's life was such an inspiring and touching testament.
When you read one of her books, it's like you're listening to an older, much more wiser friend of yours that shares with you the greatest secret of the universe.
I recommended her books for a while now, and of course this one will be added to that list.
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Caterina
Jan 10, 2015 Caterina rated it really liked it
Despite the book’s light-hearted title, this third installment of Maya’s autobiography is certainly not all happiness. But once again I couldn’t put the book down, and it left me with a kind of buoyancy, a sense of hope. I appreciate the way Maya faces her own life with such honesty and humor — including times when she was far from honest. As she gets older (the book covers her twenties and, I think, early thirties) her self-possession grows. And as interesting as the events of her life surely w ...more
Patti
Aug 12, 2014 Patti rated it really liked it
I first read this book in my early 20s, the same age as Maya is as she shares her life as a dancer, singer, actress, mother. I remember her words opening a world of possibilities for me--letting me dream larger than I had allowed myself before. Rereading it 30 years later I recognize her youthful voice. Of course, I was reminded me what an amazing, talented, brilliant, beautiful soul that was Maya Angelou. I also appreciate the wisdom and grace that comes with age--which she continues to share i ...more
Thomas DeWolf
Jul 27, 2014 Thomas DeWolf rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
In a recent conversation about the writing of Maya Angelou, another writer friend of mine thought you could open an Angelou book to any page and find a brilliant quote on each one. I share her opinion. Since Ms. Angelou's death in late May, I've revisited her writing. I've now completed her first three autobiographies. I find her life's adventures so inspiring; particularly for anyone who has struggled finding their way. As an author, I'm in awe of her use of language to convey meaning. For exam ...more
Carrie
Jan 04, 2011 Carrie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book so much better than Gather Together In My Name, but I kinda felt like it started dragging in the middle. No wonder Maya Angelou could write a six part autobiography though, she's lived an amazing life! I love the honest, witty way that she writes, without any embarrassment or explanation. She's been through a lot of bad stuff, but instead of whining about it and justifying everything, she's just like "here's what happened, and if you don't like it, too bad" I really like that ...more
Catherine
Jun 28, 2015 Catherine rated it liked it
Part 3 of Maya Angelou's autobiography. Margaurete is finally getting closer to being Maya, the amazing, 'phenomenal' woman she is known to be. In parts 1 and 2, I became really curious about how Maya became Maya. Her life was pretty much a mess. In this book, she takes on her new name and courageously embarks on a foreign adventure as a dancer in the first world tour of 'Porgy and Bess' before audiences who had never seen a group of people 'of color'. She gains self respect, grows as a woman an ...more
Deliah Lawrence
Dec 30, 2015 Deliah Lawrence rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes, Maya Angelou was indeed a phenomenal woman. We are reminded of this throughout all her biographies where she exposes herself to us through her religious beliefs, her politics, her struggles to find success, her love for the arts, her son and her family. In this third installment of her seven autobiographies, readers are introduced to Maya, the singer, dancer, and all round performer. We learn how her name came to be (Maya from her brother and Angelou a derivative from her married name, Ange ...more
Laila (BigReadingLife)
Oh man, did you know Maya Angelou was a showgirl? Or that she toured with a production of Porgy and Bess throughout Europe and Egypt? Or that her son was named Clyde, but he decided to rename himself Guy and everyone in the family just went along with it? These are the cool things I learned from this memoir of her early twenties. And, of course, she is just a beautiful writer. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
Corinne
"It wasn't wise to reveal one's real feelings to strangers. And nothing on earth was stranger to me than a friendly white woman."

"The articles in the women's magazines did nothing to help explain the deterioration of my marriage....a bizarre sensation pervades a relationship of pretense. No truth seems true. A simple morning's greeting and response appear loaded with innuendo and fraught with implications."

"My grandmother would have been proud of me. She had purred into my ears since babyhood -
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Shirly
Nov 21, 2014 Shirly rated it really liked it
Maya Angelou is an interesting and articulate writer who has lived an amazing life. In this book so many of the things she chronicles are almost too much to believe - getting to preform for Eartha Kitt! (amongst other famous celebrities and musicians). But it is her down-to-earth writing and her personal humility that I find engrossing. She doesn't sugarcoat to make it sound better for the reader. She isn't trying to flatter herself. As a single mother who went from having nothing to a respected ...more
Rift Vegan
Oct 04, 2014 Rift Vegan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
Apparently Maya's whole life is just one amazing story after another! I am setting aside very important things in order to have more reading time for this series.

Maya is still pretty dumb about men, although not to the stupid extent she went to in Gather Together in My Name. I honestly think she should have apologized for the "Was Greek" incident. It was entirely her fault for using imprecise language. But she says she "just couldn't"... I understand her pride, but that guy was just so gentlema
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Fatima
Feb 22, 2015 Fatima rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maya Angelou's beauty shines through her writing... When she narrates her life story, you can't help but be transported into her world, feel what she felt.. A phenomenal woman.
50 a year
Feb 13, 2015 50 a year rated it liked it
My adventure into the depths of Maya Angelou’s autobiography continues, this time with volume 3. The first volume, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings covers her childhood in Stamps, Arkansas, and the second, Gather Together in My Name follows her first loves and the early years of her son’s life.

In Singin’ and Swingin’ we see a much more emotionally mature and stable Angelou, beginning to forge a career as a singer and dancer in the entertainment industry.

Read the rest of my review on my blog:
http:
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Katie
Apr 20, 2016 Katie rated it it was amazing
Read this book if you are interested in: San Francisco in the 1950s, the early years of the beatnik and folk song nightclubs and/or strip clubs.
Read it if you love "Porgy and Bess."
And read it if you love good writing.
It's funny, emotional, sad, perceptive, thoughtful and educational.
Although it's slightly embarrassing, I have never read Angelou; I'm too old to have had her books required high school reading. I would like to rectify this, as soon as I finish the eleventy dozen books currently lu
...more
Simon
May 26, 2016 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Another involving and moving volume of autobiography. The second half contains slightly less drama but its hard to begrudge Angelou the period of happiness, stimulation, fulfilment and freedom as she tours Europe, considering all that she'd been put through in the previous books.
Travel allows her to reflect a little more deeply on cultural differences and how people react to her blackness. I'll be interested to see this develop in the later books when she becomes a civil rights activist and visi
...more
Fran Clark
May 14, 2016 Fran Clark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was taken in by the description of this book and I have to say it started with great promise. I was sucked in straight away and looked forward to picking it up each day to see what came next. But that thrill only lasted until what should have been an exciting climactic ending. Sadly, for me, that did not happen. The book should have ended a good twenty or so pages before it did. Instead I was faced with a drawn out few chapters of what happened to everyone once the ‘big thing’ happened. I pref ...more
Angela Boland
After reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I was in about a million pieces...my mind was blown..such beauty. I was all keyed up to read Gather Together in My Name, but I was left disappointed. However, it's Maya Angelou. I decided to give a third book a shot....

I don't think I'll be reading any more.

I mean, don't get me wrong – her life is just as crazy in this book as it ever was. But sometime after the end of her first autobiography it went from being a sad but hopeful story of a child wh
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Joni
Jan 28, 2008 Joni rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: teenagers!!!!!
You might think, considering I'd never even heard of Maya Angelou before, let alone read any of her poems, that it was a bit odd I chose to read part of her autobiography, much less the third part of her autobiography.

I was at a booksigning in a library with my aunt, and it was moving kind of slowly, so I wandered over to the books which were being sold off, because the library wasn't in my home town, so I couldn't borrow any books.

I caught sight of Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like C
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Ellyn Oaksmith
Oct 25, 2013 Ellyn Oaksmith rated it it was amazing
This book was mid-way through my epic journey of Maya Angelou's autobiographies and I have to say, it's perfect timing. After the pain of her early teens, the horror of some of her childhood and the book that I am now reading, which is filled with angry racial strife, this book is a beam of sunshine. This is the time in Ms. Angelou's life when she was finding her feet as an entertainer.

Much of the serendipity in her life, as we see later, is her uncanny way of attracting influential people. Of
...more
Ape
Jan 08, 2013 Ape rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Molly
Jan 21, 2013 Molly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is three of four of the Angelou memoirs I'm working my way through. I'm not sure piling up the last trio like this is so wise, as the punchy attitude she has, that I admire(d), can get relentless. She's human though--a mix of humility and pride, which I readily accepted.

I'm not sure what she meant exactly, when she was faced with the decision of bringing her son to Europe or paying for her flight and her replacement's flight:

"Breen and Bob Dustin had offered to send for him and give me an a
...more
Tuscany Bernier
Feb 17, 2015 Tuscany Bernier rated it it was ok
I was looking forward to the third installment of this series. It felt like it dragged on for a long time though. I fell asleep reading it several times because of how boring and monotonous it was.

I liked that it explored the feelings of a mother who has chosen a fulfilling career and how she felt leaving her son behind. How she interacted with everybody in Europe and how she coped with her failed marriage to Mr. Angelos, the Greek guy. I found it slightly interesting. :)
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Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Ann Johnson April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, was an American poet, memoirist, actress and an important figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. In 2001 she was named one of the 30 most powerful women in America by Ladies Home Journal. Maya Angelou is known for her series of six autobiographies, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, (1969 which was n ...more
More about Maya Angelou...

Other Books in the Series

Maya Angelou's Autobiography (6 books)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  • Gather Together in My Name
  • The Heart of a Woman
  • All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes
  • A Song Flung Up To Heaven

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“I was really in Italy. Not Maya Angelou, the person of pretensions and ambitions, but me, Marguerite Johnson, who had read about Verona and the sad lovers while growing up in a dusty Southern village poorer and more tragic than the historic town in which I now stood. I was so excited at the incredible turn of events which had brought me from a past of rejection, of slammed doors and blind alleys, of dead-end streets and culs-de-sac, into the bright sun of Italy, into a town made famous by one of the world’s greatest writers. I” 0 likes
“I made no attempt to wipe away the tears. I could not claim a forefather who came to America on the Mayflower. Nor did any ancestor of mine amass riches to leave me free from toil. My great-grandparents were illiterate when their fellow men were signing the Declaration of Independence, and the first families of my people were bought separately and sold apart, nameless and without traces – yet there was this: ‘Deep River My home is over Jordan.” 0 likes
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