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Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas

(Maya Angelou's Autobiography #3)

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  6,326 ratings  ·  232 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
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 13th 1997 by Random House (first published 1976)
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 ·  6,326 ratings  ·  232 reviews

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Start your review of Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas (Maya Angelou's Autobiography, #3)
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 09, 2014 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,
Jul 18, 2012 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
Maria Fernanda Gama
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is, in comparison to her first two autobiographies, much lighter and easier on the heart. We finally get to see some doors opening for her, and get to be amazed at how she takes every chance life throws at her, and how it almost always pays off.

I do, however, felt a bit overwhelmed by the many events and many different people described in this book. I know it's all important to mention, but with such a hectic pacing, it's really difficult to connect to the people and places. The ending
May 28, 2013 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
From BBC radio 4 Extra:
Single mother Maya loves music. She meets and marries former sailor Tosh in the record shop where she works, though troubled waters lay ahead.

Maya's Angelou's third volume of vivid memoirs set in the early 1950's

Dramatised by Winsome Pinnock

NARRATOR - Older Maya .... Adjoa Andoh
MAYA .... Pippa Bennett-Warner
TOSH .... Jamie Demetriou
VIVIAN BAXTER .... Ellen Thomas
CLYDE .... Tumo Reetsang
PREACHER .... Steve Toussaint

Director: Pauline Harris

First broadcast in five parts on
Jun 17, 2019 rated it liked it
I didn't realize this was the third in Maya Angelou's memoir series. Picked up at my local used book store, a copy printed in 1981

I knew almost nothing about her life, so I learned a lot (she toured with the first international tour of Porgy and Bess!). This book generally seemed more focused on events/plot, especially towards the second half, which is not my personal preference for memoirs. There was still a good bit of her interior life, which I appreciated.

I'm due to get the audiobook of I
Urenna Sander
Dec 02, 2009 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
Oct 31, 2009 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,
Thomas DeWolf
Jul 27, 2014 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 ...more
Michael McClain
Dec 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
May 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
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 ...more
Chris Maats
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The rich style of writing, the honesty of self-reflection, the descriptions of the context and back story of this African American perspective and its effects on thought and culture and fears and humor and fascinations, the joy and pain and wonder of a courageous stumble and elegant dance through life. A breeze to read.
Maggie Hyam
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Yes I really enjoyed this booked and will probably look at reading some more of Maya's books.
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a life. What a writer. She makes words sing.
Mar 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maya Angelou does it again! Can't wait to read the next one!
Jasmeet Kalra
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
what a woman, what a life! "why a caged bird sings" is only a tiny snippet into her life. the rest of the books are fast-paced page turning never-boring stories. she has style, charisma, grit and an uncanny ability to bounce back from the darkest moments.

her poetic writing style is an added bonus. read on!
Jun 15, 2015 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
Apr 17, 2016 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
Aug 12, 2014 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 ...more
Nov 08, 2010 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
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.
Feb 18, 2016 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.
Aug 11, 2010 rated it it was ok
This was my least favorite of her autobiographical series. It just didn't seem to have the depth and personal struggle as the others do. Still a must read if you're going to complete the rest.
Nov 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
Third volume of Maya Angelou's biography. This one is more fun. She has a lousy marriage and then travels the world with Porgy and Bess.
Apr 20, 2014 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.
Joe Bliven
Jan 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maya Angelou's third book is just like the first two: perfect. No matter what comes out of this woman's mind it comes out with a beauty that can't be replicated by anyone else. This book covers her marriage where she got the name "Angelos" and subsequently how her stage name Maya Angelou came to be. She chronicles her ride through the entertainment industry from a burlesque performer to a touring opera dancer. Her short marriage and the small section she dedicates to it perfectly sums up the ...more
Dec 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: bought-and-read
It took me a really long time to get through this book mostly because I didn't care too much for the story. The writing wasn't bad or anything, I just wasn't too fascinated by Maya's career as a singer and dancer. But her charm, sharp criticism, and humor definitely came across. I didn't know that she was married to a white man, but it was interesting how race was talked about in this. she was careful around white people and mistrusted them. She said," The question was not if she would divulge ...more
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
And so I have come to read the last of Maya Angelou's autobiographical works. I have spent the month of April in total immersion, whilst on my own trips, across continents, plains and cities she has kept me company! And what company! I am glad I kept this book for last, even though it came much earlier in terms of publication date, possibly straight after (or but one) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. In this work she wears her heart on her sleeve, and possibly because closer to her youth, the ...more
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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

Other books in the series

Maya Angelou's Autobiography (7 books)
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (Maya Angelou's Autobiography, #1)
  • 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
“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” 2 likes
“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.” 2 likes
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