Remember the YouTube video of the 102-year-old dancer seeing her younger self on film for the first time? Her video has over 18 million views to date, and was featured on CBS Nightly News, NBC News, The Washington Post, Time, Good Morning America, & BuzzFeed. Alice even received a letter from former President Barack Obama.
Before Alice Barker became famous for this Youtube video, she was seen as just an old woman in a nursing home. But she had stories to tell and a history to share.
Alice Barker was a well-known African American dancer during the 1940s. A house dancer at the legendary Cafe Zanzibar, Alice also performed in all of the exclusive Manhattan nightclubs with musicians including, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and all the greats! She made her television debut in the 60s dancing with Frank Sinatra on his show, making her one of the first African American dancers to perform on television.
Hidden in Plain Sight, is a mini-production of a work-in-progress play that will tell the story of Alice’s life in the nursing home, her most memorable experiences and her strong belief in embracing what you love; to always “let it be”. Alice’s story will be brought to life by the residents, staff, and family members that knew of her.
Hidden in Plain Sight premieres during Nursing Home Week on Monday, May 14TH at 2:30pm at Brooklyn Nursing & Rehabilitation Rehab Facility in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
If interested in attending or for further information, please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org
Alice appears at 0:18 (far right), and 1:11 (front and center, then moving to the right)
Thanks to writer Susan Delson for bringing this to our attention!
Notes by jazz historian Mark Cantor:
This soundie is titled ‘Sugar Hill Masquerade’, although it is actually the standard ‘After You’ve Gone’. It was recorded on December 18, 1941 by Gene Krupa and his orchestra, the familiar arrangement from the period featuring trumpet star Roy Eldridge.
The soundtrack was put on the shelf, and the “action” was not filmed until September 18, 1942 — not an altogether rare soundie practice. The small band you see on screen at the beginning, led by trumpet Walter Fuller, has nothing to do with the music we hear on screen.
The sideline performers include the following; note the way Alice’s name appears on the sideline contract:
Edna Mae Harris, Slim Thomas, Ray Harris, Carrie Frederick, Charlie Morrison, Frances Urline Jackson, Dorothy Moses, Thelma Hereford, Estella Marrino, Alyce Barker [chorus girl to far right], Florence Alexander.
Alice received a letter today from the Obamas! The signatures are hand signed!
Of course she is over the moon. This was really the only thing she could have asked for to make her life and legacy complete.
Happy 103rd birthday! We are delighted to send our belated warm wishes on this milestone.
Your story is an integral part of the American narrative, and you have witnessed the best of what our Nation can accomplish when we work together in pursuit of a brighter tomorrow. We hope you were able to enjoy the occasion, and we wish you all the best.
On July 30th, 2015, Alice celebrated her 103rd birthday!
A troupe of dancers from a school in Harlem came to perform for her and all the residents. She was positively glowing!
Cards, flowers and fan art from around the world continue to arrive for her every day, and she could not feel more blessed and honored. Thank you all! You are truly making this woman’s life complete. 🙂
Thank you all for the amazing outpouring of love and admiration for our Alice—she’s received well over 500 cards! (We think, too many to count!)
Friends are volunteers are reading them to her regularly, and she is loving every word. She still shakes her head in disbelief to see not only how many cards there are, but how they’ve come from all over the world. And the lovely art so many of you have made!
We wish there was some way we could reply to everyone who sent a card directly, but it will have to do for us to say here, thank you! You have made such a difference in her life.