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Maya Angelou's Autobiography #3

Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas

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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 white woman. Suspicious of almost any kindness shown her, she is particularly confused by the special attentions of a young white customer. Soon the relationship grows into love and then marriage, and Maya believes a permanent relationship is finally possible. But it is not to be, and she is again forced to look for work.

This time she finds a job as a dancer in a sleazy San Francisco bar. Her remarkable talent, however, soon brings her attention of a different kind, and before long she is singing in one of the most popular nightclubs on the coast. From there, she is called to New York to join the cast of Porgy and Bess, which is just about to begin another tour abroad.

The troupe's joyous and dramatic adventure through Italy, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Egypt becomes the centerpiece of Singin' and Swingin'. This remarkable portrayal of one of the most exciting and talented casts ever put together, and of the encounters between these larger-than-life personalities and audiences who had rarely seen black people before, makes a hilarious and poignant story. The excitement of the journey -- full of camaraderie, love affairs, and memorable personalities -- is dampened only by Maya's nagging guilt that she has once again abandoned the person she loves most in life, her son.

Back home, and driven close to suicide by her guilt and concern, she takes her son with her to Hawaii, where she discovers that devotion and love, in spite of forced absence, have the power to heal and sustain.

As always, Maya Angelou's writing is charged with that remarkable sense of life and love and unique celebration of the human condition that have won her such a loyal following.

288 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1976

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About the author

Maya Angelou

214 books12.9k followers
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 nominated for a National Book Award and called her magnum opus. Her volume of poetry, Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'Fore I Die (1971) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 381 reviews
Profile Image for Deacon Tom F.
1,855 reviews147 followers
February 4, 2021
4 1/2 Stars.

Excellent book

I really enjoyed, “Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas” by Maya Angelou. Like the rest of her books, this one is a very easy reading book. This book is the 3rd of 6 incredible volumes.

Her writing, as always, is superb with vivid detail and precise description. As for a plot, it encounters her days with the Greek husband, as well as her, naughty adventures and often naughty adventure of show girl"/dancer.

The book also shows the maturation and development of her as a woman. Where the early books depicted her distain for whites, this one shows a radical change and one can clearly see how she’s growing up.

Again this is another outstanding book by Maya and one that I would recommend for everyone.
Profile Image for Paul.
1,218 reviews1,962 followers
December 10, 2016
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 subject. Angelou recounts how she came to mix with whites who did not come from the South and her difficulties in trusting them. She notes the different forms racism takes in continental Europe where African Americans are welcomed and feted but Africans are treated in a similar way to African Americans in America.
Angelou’s love of music and dance shines through and is the thread that holds the whole together. The descriptions of bars and night clubs and those who work in them give a flavour of the times. The writing has a musicality to it; rooted in the blues. The touring company with Porgy and Bess provide some lively and amusing moments; amorous encounters, problems with hotels and travel and cultural misunderstandings.
Maya Angelou is immensely engaging and this is an autobiographical series well worth reading.
Profile Image for Riya.
80 reviews5 followers
February 3, 2013
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 two memoirs were very engrossing to me and consumed my attention from the first page to the last, this particular one I personally couldn't connect to. It could be, perhaps, that it was just me, so I am not necessarily berating this book, just admitting that it didn't work for me personally.

In this memoir Maya begins her story by describing her experiences as a single young African American mother. Life is certainly difficult for her and she fortunately finds a good-paying and pleasant job working at a record store where she meets a handsome Greek man that asks her to marry him after a few months. It is a great shock to Maya's mother that her daughter accepts the marriage proposal and marries this white man. Domestic bliss doesn't last as long as Maya hopes for and soon the couple is divorced, leaving Clyde (Maya's precious son) devastated that he has lost the only father he has ever known.

The next part in the book I found to be pretty enthralling; this is where Maya describes her experiences dancing in a San Fransisco strip club (where she is the first black dancer) hustling men for overpriced drinks and making the rest of the entertainers mad jealous. That job doesn't last long which is advantageous to Maya because she meets a group of singers that take a liking to her and soon she finds herself part of a singing traveling troupe called Porgy and Bess. The group travels to exotic places from France to Italy to Yugoslavia to Egypt and so on. Now, most of the book is about Ms. Angelou's experiences in dancing and singing and traveling the world, and while it sounds like this should be the most exciting part of the book, it just didn't work for me. I wasn't interested no matter how hard I tried. And that bothered me because Maya's singing adventures are the core of this book. I didn't find any of it interesting: all of the singer' names blended together and became indestinguishable and all of the countries sounded similiar to me.

I think another reader might very much enjoy this book but like I have already mentioned, it just wasn't for me. Overall: 3 out of 5 stars.
Profile Image for Eman.
204 reviews58 followers
August 21, 2017

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, but now she's finally maturing into true parenthood and womanhood. As the Singin' and Swingin' title suggests, she makes her debut as a professional singer and dancer which suits her pretty well. She's simply an integral artist by nature. Her hardworking personality is inspiring beyond limits.


Maya Angelou's Autobiographies:
1) I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
2) Gather Together in My Name.
3) Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas.
4) The Heart of a Woman.
5) All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes.
6) A Song Flung Up to Heaven.
Profile Image for Najia.
217 reviews6 followers
August 1, 2021
I don’t have any more words left inside of me with which to praise this woman. She is mightier than my vocabulary, my words fall way shorter than my feelings.

Maya didn’t preach life, she lived it. Imagine being the writer and poet of this stature, but being a waitress, a prostitute, a salesperson, a dancer, a singer before that. But I believe that’s all what made and shaped this incredible woman into Maya Angelou, and without which she would just have been Marguerite Johnson. All these professions were paving her path towards the greatness that was waiting for her, they all pushed her to be what she ultimately became, the one who changed lives, whose words soothed souls, in whose life’s experience we all keep finding lessons and strength for ourselves. Full of quirky and sometimes hilarious anecdotes of Maya’s life, I absolutely loved reading this one too.
Profile Image for Chaitanya Sethi.
321 reviews70 followers
October 25, 2020
You know you've lived a life when the third book in your autobiographical series only covers your mid-twenties. We left Ms. Angelou and her son in San Francisco at the end of the second book. Ms. Angelou had just turned 21. This continues right from there. She describes her experiences with finding a stable financial footing for herself, in between working in a record store, moonlighting as an exotic dancer, a bartender, and finally getting her 'break' as a calypso chanteuse in a club called 'The Purple Onion', which launched her into fame and a Europe tour with the acclaimed Opera troupe Porgy and Bess.

In between are also reflections on a failed marriage with a white man and the repercussions of the same, her insecurities as a mother and nurturer, her first tryst with fame and stardom, and experiences gained from traveling across cultures and countries. As always, her writing is simple but powerful and she mixes incidents of simplicity with commentary that explores the deeper threads running through it.

There was one errant comment which disappointed me, about her reluctance to bring along her son to her tour because the touring group had many gay men and her impressionable son would follow in their footsteps to gain adoration and approval. I guess even someone like Ms. Angelou wasn't untouched by some form of prejudice. That aside, her writing is always enjoyable and so was this book.
Profile Image for Joyce.
129 reviews3 followers
May 28, 2013
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 whole story.

The people I most admire are those who grew and changed and transcended sometimes horrific events and seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Most often, they never had a plan to travel to where they finally ended up. They often made huge mistakes and took what initially seemed to be huge detours. But, they all had the courage to keep moving forward. Each was seemingly defeated time and time again, but kept getting up to try again.

Profile Image for Julie Kuvakos.
158 reviews174 followers
January 23, 2022
Amazing story of an amazing woman. This one wasn’t as strong to me as her previous autobiographies but nonetheless I was engaged. ❤️
Profile Image for Maria Fernanda Gama.
236 reviews14 followers
September 21, 2018
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 also felt a bit rushed. It's like she took us through this wonderful, magical fairy tale throughout the book, and then at the very last pages decided to remind us that there are consequences to being so happy and carefree for so long. But these hardships last only through a few paragraphs, which I'm sure it's very different from how it happened in her life.

Anyway, I'm both excited and nervous for what's to come in the next chapters
Profile Image for Cathi.
225 reviews7 followers
June 18, 2019
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 Know Why the Caged Bird Sings soon, and I'm looking forward to it.
Profile Image for Caterina.
235 reviews88 followers
April 25, 2017
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 were, it’s not so much those events themselves but her handling of them, her sensitive reflection on them, and her masterful, witty storytelling that make this book.

**Spoiler Alert -- starting here

Finding refuge from her loneliness in music, Maya takes a job in a record store, where she meets Tosh Angelos. Amidst dire warnings of certain doom from her mother and black friends, she marries him — a white man. And it’s not long until the marriage begins to dissolve - but not because of race. Married to an atheist, a talented debater who convinces her — not that there is no God, but that she can’t win the argument — “I surrendered. I tucked away the memory of my great-grandmother (who had been a slave), who told me of praying silently under old wash pots, and of secret meetings deep in the woods to praise God. Her owner wouldn’t allow his Negroes to worship God (it might give them ideas) and they did so on pain of being lashed.” While on the surface she tries to be the “perfect” wife by submitting to her husband, secretly she sneaks off to church, where “The spirituals and gospel songs were sweeter than sugar. I wanted to keep my mouth full of them and the sounds of my people singing fell like sweet oil in my ears. When the polyrhythmic hand-clapping began and the feet started tapping, when one old lady in a corner raised her voice to scream ‘O Lord, Lordy Jesus,’ I could hardly keep my seat. The ceremony drove into my body, to my fingers, toes, neck and thighs. My extremities shook under the emotional possession. I imposed my will on their quivering and kept them fairly still. I as terrified that once loose, once I lifted or lost my control, I would rise from my seat and dance like a puppet up and down the aisles. I would open my mouth and screams, shouts and field hollers would tear out my tongue in their rush to be free.” But when Tosh discovers her churchgoing and confronts her with hostility, Maya remains silent and “gives ground.” Eventually, truth of any kind becomes impossible between the couple; they are divorced, and Maya is on her own again as a single mom.

After her divorce, she has the dubious honor of being the first black woman to work in a sleazy joint called the “Garden of Allah” — as a scantily clad dancer — where she is expected to get the customers to buy her drinks between acts. Scornful — and incapable of small talk — she “makes conversation” with the customers by telling them truth — how much she is paid for every drink they buy, and the fact that the “Scotch” they pay for is really only ginger ale. The sassier and more outrageous she becomes, the more drinks they buy. Eventually the other dancers — jealous and suspicious — force her out — but fortunately her talent as a dancer has been “noticed.” From there, she takes the place of a white singer at a hip San Francisco night club, and later moves to New York and joins the cast of Porgy and Bess as a dancer for its international tour. Serious, literary, and romantic, she is deeply moved by the opera — and appalled when the cast members seem to throw off their roles and become frivolous as soon as they leave the stage. She is convinced she can make no friends among such light-minded people.

Yet - she does make friends — and experiences something completely new — loving acceptance by (white) Europeans in Italy and France, and — a highlight of the book — behind the Iron Curtain in Yugoslavia. Living conditions are primitive there, poverty pronounced, and surveillance thoroughgoing — the communist revolution does not appear to have been a success from the Americans’ point of view: "if this is what they got for their revolution, they're due for another" — but the people are passionate in a way the Americans have never seen — bordering on comic. Each actor or actress — including Maya — has at least one admirer who calls on the telephone every day, proclaiming : “I am loving you. I am dying for you. I am throwing myself into the cold river and drowning for you” and so forth. Another actress’s admirer throws himself bodily into the hotel room and has to be dragged out. Although she discovers her “young man” to be not young and seductive (as his telephone voice seems) but a very old (and at least a foot shorter than her six-foot self), when he runs after the train as they are departing, she finds herself moved to tears at his devotion.

Performing next in Athens, then taking a Greek ferry to Egypt, “Mrs. Angelos” is treated with extra-special attention and even sympathy because of her Greek husband — Maya discovers later that the crew mistakenly thinks her a widow, not divorced. The highly anticipated African experience is mixed. Maya is thrilled to set foot on her ancestral continent — yet sees that racial stratification — black servants waiting on white owners and patrons — remains alive in the colonial context. Returning to Europe, eventually the tour wears thin, the tired actors irritable and ready to go home. Maya, continually wracked by guilt for being apart from her son, who has already been traumatized by their long separations in the past, reunites with him and promises that they will never again be separated - she will travel only with him. As this installment ends, she has kept her promise.

It’s very unusual that I feel compelled to read an entire series of books, and something could still happen to put me off before the end — but I’ve already started number four, The Heart of a Woman. Brava, Maya Angelou!
Profile Image for lydia young.
187 reviews1 follower
December 8, 2021
i love maya angelou’s story but this part of her autobiographical series didn’t interest me quite as much as the other three i have read!

108 reviews
October 19, 2020
It lacks the emotional heft of the first two but makes up for it with beautiful language and a delightful exploration of her relationship with her son.
Profile Image for Lisa Miller.
Author 3 books134 followers
March 28, 2022
This was an awesome book. It kept my attention the whole time. I enjoyed the book a lot.
Profile Image for Orinoco Womble (tidy bag and all).
2,020 reviews186 followers
September 28, 2020
I must have read at least a part of this book decades back, as the beginning was familiar to me. At this reading so many questions surfaced in my mind.
* In previous volumes Angelou presents herself as almost the poster child of hatred and fear of whites, particularly white men (though it was a black man who raped her as a child, and another black man who turned her out as a prostitute). When she's not actively enraged by them, she is busy ignoring them as if they don't exist, particularly white women. In this volume she marries a white man. Her explanation for this about face? "Because he asked me." Uh-huh. Of course she tells herself he's "not really white" as he is a Greek American. I've met white Americans who believe that people from the Mediterranean countries aren't really white, which is news to those of us who live here, but it surprised me in Angelou. I guess you can rationalise anything if you really want to. Her marriage to this controlling, isolating man apparently comes to an end shortly after she attends a Pentecostal church service and is so carried away that she "forgets" and gives them her real name and phone number, enraging her husband when he answers a phone call from a church member. Was it really a mistake, or was she looking for a way out?

* She works in a strip club as what would today be known as an "exotic dancer." Why was this her "only" option of employment? I couldn't help wondering why acquiring marketable skills such as typing was quite so far beneath her. I've known plenty of journeyman musicians/actors who took jobs waiting tables, as temporary office staff etc. while studying or getting started in their careers, but not Angelou, oh no no no. She couldn't lower herself to that! Because taking off your clothes for men to ogle is more empowering, and a sure path to stardom. Uh-huh.

* When she joins an all-black theatre company touring with Porgy and Bess, she is no less critical of fellow cast members than of the whites who helped her get the break. She repeatedly describes them as "loud", "noisy" etc as if she found them embarrassing to be around. No wonder she feels her friendships among them are not solid. On her side, they're not. She is supposedly the "first dancer" in the troupe but there is no mention of rehearsal or choreography. We are led to believe the unbelievable--that she just pranced on stage and let the music take her away. Yeah. The director will love that.

*Despite her own repeatedly declared need to be seen as a wonderful creative individual, she herself appears to think of other peoples and cultures in facile stereotypes. All she sees of the Italians is the curly hair and waving hands, the Germans wear starched white shirts and sup beer, the Greeks are all handsome and exotic...and beneath her notice, etc. Hmmmm.

*She repeatedly speaks of the Yugoslav people as having "stainless steel teeth" or "the bar of metal that substituted for teeth" as if they had all had them pulled and replaced. Where does she get this? I've never read or heard of it from any other source.

*In her first memoir she speaks of her son Guy. In book 2 he is just "my son/my baby/my child." Suddenly in this volume he is Clyde, and we are told that was his given name until he decided his name was Guy. Confusing to say the least, but as 8 years passed between the two volumes, perhaps like many authors she just forgot the parameters she herself set up. The book is cut off in mid-conversation, a device I dislike in any writer.

I can't figure out if she is self-deprecating when she speaks of her stereotypical thinking and impulsive, foolish actions and choices, or if she really was that wrong headed. Her angry superiority to all around her carries over into later books, which makes me wonder why she is such an icon to so many readers. Having praised the book with faint damns, I will say it was a vast improvement on Volume 2.
Profile Image for Mender.
1,358 reviews11 followers
June 16, 2015
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 to understand. That perhaps it was a scar too deep to want empathy.

While I don't doubt that that was how Ms Angelou experienced the world, I do doubt at least a little that it was how the world actually was. In the same way that a mafia boss sees the world made up of dangers and schmucks, I think Ms Angelou's world is made up of blacks and whites and rather extreme versions of both. And neither of those views mesh with my person experience of life, which is so much safer and further from the hard edges of the world. I don't see the world as everyone trying to hustle for something, so it's not. I don't notice anyone's race until they mention it to me, because I'm extremely unobservant. The school my son goes to has a background of 79% other than english spoken at home, so I'm dimly aware that there are other races around - it just has no impact on my life. People are just people.

I found being in her worldview at times exhausting. And as always the sheer amount of life she manages to pack into her life - I'm exhausted for her!

When I read the early Anita Blake books, I would get tired by the end of it realizing how many storylines she is packing into a day, and think 'don't you ever sleep??'. I feel that way about Ms Angelou's actual life. Touring France, she would dance in an opera, then perform for an hour at a nightclub, then drive across town and perform an hour in another nightclub. Any single one of these performances would wipe me out. Like Amanda Palmer, she seems to draw energy from crowds.

So I feel inadequate again at how much some people manage to pack into their lives, but it really hammers home the truth that fame is so not for me.
Profile Image for Urenna Sander.
Author 1 book23 followers
December 29, 2009
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 does not dwell on it in her autobiography. Raised by her grandparents, and taught to be independent, a young, resolute Ms. Angelou, at six feet tall, considered herself unattractive. But she has other attributes that make her beautiful; her personality. She is eloquent, learned, has read an enormous amount of books, and as a young woman she had guts, confidence, and the desire like a burning fever inside to change her life for the better.
With no experience as a nightclub entertainer, but with courage and inventiveness, she obtained a job as a singer/dancer in California. There she met new friends and admirers that steered her in the right direction.
Leaving her son to be cared for by her mother, she tried out for a play in New York City, and was hired. But she was sought after to work with the Porgy and Bess troupe too. The company would play Montreal, and then tour Europe. And of course she chose the latter.
Without giving too much away, this book will surprise you and make you laugh at her adventures. You will admire her strength and her passion for a career and love for her son.
True Season of Love by Urenna Sander
25 reviews1 follower
November 1, 2009
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, where she met a number of important African American authors, including her friend and mentor James Baldwin. After hearing civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speak for the first time in 1960, she was inspired to join the Civil Rights movement. She organized several benefits for him, and he named her Northern Coordinator of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. She toured Europe with a production of the opera Porgy and Bess in 1954–1955, studied modern dance with Martha Graham, danced with choreographer Alvin Ailey on television variety shows, and recorded her first record album, Miss Calypso, in 1957. She co-created a dance team, "Al and Rita", with Ailey, who combined elements of modern dance, ballet, and West African tribal dancing. One of the themes of this book was the conflict she felt between her desire to be a good mother and a successful performer, a situation "very familiar to mothers with careers". Maya Angelou has lived an amazingly multi-faceted life.
Profile Image for Thomas DeWolf.
Author 5 books52 followers
July 27, 2014
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 example... "Two months after I began working in the Garden of Allah the composition of the patronage changed. The lonely men whose hands played with their pocketed dreams slowly gave way to a few laughing open-faced couples who simply came in to watch the show." Describing men masturbating in a strip club as "hands played with their pocketed dreams" paints a brilliant image, just as my friend opined, doesn't it?

Maya Angelou's work will inspire readers, poets, novelists, and artists of many stripes, for a long time to come. I'll read her other two autobiographies soon. I'm going to pause a bit and read something else so I don't run out of Maya too soon.
Profile Image for Michael McClain.
179 reviews4 followers
December 22, 2016
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-Americans (some way more friendly than the US's attitude in the 1950's).
But the title of her third volume of autobiography is a paradox. For all the joy and fun on tour, there are still missteps and heartbreaks along the way-most importantly, the guilt Maya feels over "abandoning" her son to go abroad. Another enjoyable addition in Maya Angelou's autobiography series that explores her artistic lifestyle and the sacrifices that come with it.
Profile Image for Laura.
6,910 reviews565 followers
October 6, 2018
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 BBC Radio 4 in October 2018.

Profile Image for Monica .
266 reviews51 followers
December 11, 2015
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.
Profile Image for Mary K.
481 reviews23 followers
July 15, 2020
I had a tough time giving a Maya Angelou book an average rating but if someone had covered up her name and given me the book to read that’s what it would have amounted to. I think it’s fascinating that she had a career in dance and the stage - I never knew that - and there were some funny moments and the writing was sweet but nothing spectacular. The stories were okay. So there you are.
Profile Image for Tbone.
132 reviews4 followers
August 11, 2010
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.
Profile Image for Chasity Colomb.
14 reviews
May 8, 2021
What a life and what an absolute pleasure to be given the privilege of having a front row seat to all the incredible things Ms. Angelou accomplished - and this was before she even became a writer! If there’s one thing that this book has taught me, it’s when God closes one door, if you’re courageous enough to move forward with life, He will certainly open another. At the beginning of this book she was stocking vinyl records at a local record shop in San Francisco; by the end, she had been all over the world touring with Porgy and Bess, and upon leaving the company had been called upon for a solo opportunity in Hawaii. One thing about her, she never felt like one job was the end all, be all to her life. And the crazy thing about all of this, is she made so many mistakes. She did not tiptoe through life hoping to avoid failure or misfortune. She is often stumbled through it, recklessly at times. A conversation that she had while visiting the illustrious nightclub of Bricktop really stuck with me. When asked how she felt being so far from home, she replied, “There is no place God is not.” And if we can all remember that, we’ll get a lot more out of our time on Earth. Bravo as always, Ms. Angelou!
Profile Image for Jennice Mckillop.
383 reviews1 follower
December 29, 2020
Just so totally impressed by Ms Angelou’s hardworking & tenacious character. And the writing ain’t bad either!
I didn’t read the previous book in the series, but there is some overlapping accounting that naturally references that period of her bio in this issue.
Besides her determination & obvious innate talents, her stars seem to have been in perfect alignment. That is not to discount any of her hard work, but it basically showed her wisdom & bravery in accepting some of the offers that she received.
I learned so much about her. I learned that she sang and danced. And did it well enough to tour with the troupe. Wow!
The stories of her experiences in Europe and Africa were so beautifully written. So richly scripted. So emotionally explicit.
I’m glad to know her.
Profile Image for Alexis.
936 reviews42 followers
September 21, 2022
I think it wasn't the right time for me. I'm still very much enjoying learning about her life (and there is a LOT to learn), but I dragged on this one. I did love the content, though. It focuses primarily on her career as an entertainer with an emphasis on her time touring abroad with Porgy and Bess. I had no idea about this aspect of her life, and it's been a pleasure to learn about.

At the end, she writes a bit about struggling with depression after her travels, and the way she does it is very vulnerable. I was amazed at what she shared.

My favorite of the autobiographies is still the first.
55 reviews4 followers
August 24, 2019
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.
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