Music: Singing for the Devil

Out of a dressing room just big enough to hold her, a short, stout and bespectacled Negro woman stepped onto the two-by-four stage. The prim expression on her flat face was that of a Sunday school teacher lost in a gin mill and primed to bawl out the customers. Seconds later, her ample hips bouncing, her abdomen lewdly rolling, she was shouting the blues at the top of her voice. Last week, after a 17-year absence, Bertha ("Chippie") Hill was back at her old trade. To Manhattan's smoke-filled Village Vanguard, deep in a Greenwich Village cellar, her name had drawn a...

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