Valaida Snow

Born in 1903 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Valaida Snow was a jazz musician who started her entertainment career at the young age of 15 and gained national and eventually international recognition during the 1920s, 30s, 40s, and early 50s. She was a member of such touring groups as “The Chocolate Dandies”, the “Blackbirds”, and the Will Mastin Trio. It was during these international tours that her other talents as musical arranger, trumpet player, and amateur actress emerged. Unfortunately it was also during one of her performances abroad that she was captured by Nazi soldiers in Denmark and forced to work in the Wester-Faengler concentration camp for two years until she was freed in a prisoner-swap. Despite her harrowing experience underneath Nazi control, Snow was determined to continue her musical career. During the late 1940s and early 1950s she signs with several recording labels, including Derby Records and Apollo Records, and produces popular singles like “Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone”. She regains success through her recordings and begins performing in the same musical revues that had made her famous during the 1920s. It was during one of these performances that she suffers irreversible brain damage from a cerebral hemorrhage and dies in June of 1956.

-written by Felicia Bevel



Valaida Snow Sings at Fay’s Theatre

During its new weekly program of black entertainment in 1933, Fay's Theatre invited Valaida Snow and her orchestra to perform as its main attraction. Her talent was well recognized, given the large audiences that came to hear her sing during this week-long event and that, according to a 1933 issue of the Baltimore Afro-American, demanded encores every night. -written by Felicia Bevel

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