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

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  5,102 Ratings  ·  170 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
Hardcover, 269 pages
Published August 12th 1976 by Random House (first published 1976)
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Sep 09, 2014 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
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
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
Urenna Sander
Dec 02, 2009 Urenna Sander rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 31, 2009 Donna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Michael McClain
Dec 21, 2016 Michael McClain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maya Angelou's early 20's puts everyone else's to shame! She experiences her first marriage (and divorce), singing and dancing at nightclubs, a few more odd jobs, all culminating in her acceptance into the ensemble of the international tour of Porgy and Bess. A bulk of the second half of SINGIN' AND SWINGIN'... is focused on the many adventures Maya accumulates in the foreign spots on the tour. From Paris to Rome to Cairo, she discovers new cultures, customs and different attitudes to African-Am ...more
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.
Feb 18, 2016 Abby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
This one was super difficult to put down with her descriptions of travel and life abroad. Anxious to read part 4.
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
Mar 01, 2017 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a life. What a writer. She makes words sing.
Jun 15, 2015 Vorbis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Thomas DeWolf
Jul 27, 2014 Thomas DeWolf rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 17, 2016 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 12, 2014 Patti rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 08, 2010 Carrie rated it really liked it
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
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.
Apr 20, 2014 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.
Dec 10, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third of Maya Angelou’s series of autobiographies. It covers the years 1949 to 1955 when Angelou was in her 20s. It covers her forays into the world of work to support her son. Angelou marries a Greek sailor and she charts the course of the marriage until its end. There follows Angelou’s development as a singer and dancer, working in a variety of night clubs. Finally she tours Europe with a production of Porgy and Bess. It is well written and easy to read.
Race is still a central subj
Ying Ying
The more one reads Maya, the more one enjoys her writing. Her life is extraordinary; full of ups and downs. She is strong and inspiring. In this book, her career is singin', swingin' and getting' merry like Christmas. She gets renowned and acclaimed worldwide, and she realizes how important her son is to her.
DeShawn McGhee
I love Maya Angelou books but this wasn't my favorite. There were parts were the booked dragged but I still appreciated the journey
Mar 12, 2017 Marla rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
I love everything she wrote.
Fran Clark
Sep 17, 2013 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
Kiyaa Kanjukia
Feb 25, 2017 Kiyaa Kanjukia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So far, Maya has lived my life for me; and I am both happy and sad. I have also been slowing down on finishing this book but, but it has finally come to the last! *insert dramatic wailing and mourning with ashes and sack cloths* I have laughed, I have cried, I have annoyed people in matatus and restaurants (but who cares?); I have imagined how solo trips to Italy and Switzerland and Greece and France and Spain and Yugoslavia and Scotland would be like. I have fantasised, I have listened to and I ...more
Oct 30, 2014 Shirly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Ellyn Oaksmith
Oct 25, 2013 Ellyn Oaksmith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Deliah Lawrence
Dec 20, 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
Angela Boland
After reading I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, I was in about a million 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
Jan 04, 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.
"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 -
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
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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 ...more
More about Maya Angelou...

Other Books in the Series

Maya Angelou's Autobiography (7 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
  • Mom & Me & Mom

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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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