Tag Archives: women making history

Women in History Article: Big Momma Thornton and the Blues

Two years ago in March for Women’s History Month, I featured writers and authors who sent in guest articles about Women in History and Women Making History here at Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Now, it’s time for a new Celebrating Women Series for 2017. You can find a main page for this with explanation and link to all articles here. I’ll add the article as I schedule or post them.

To start things off for 2017, author Robert Dean writes about Big Momma Thornton, a blues singer like no other! Without further ado, here is article #1 in the series.

Howling the blues: the deadly vibrato of Big Momma Thornton

by Robert Dean, author of The Red Seven

Big Momma

 If there was ever a strong woman who didn’t take no backseat to a man, it was Willie Mae “Big Momma” Thornton. The Queen of The Blues, long before Koko Taylor, Big Momma could out drink, out sing, and out blow on a blues harp better than her male contemporaries. With her booming voice, her soulful swagger, Big Momma Thornton was a dominating presence in the heyday of the blues.

Her musical style was unique because of her ability to project a loud, booming voice over the swinging band, creating a swagger that the men just couldn’t truck with. That was Big Momma Thornton, a stylistic hooligan who refused to play by the rules of the industry.

Her backbone of religious music gave her pause for her spiritual crimes, but her love of the bottle led her to her death in 1984, but in between the cradle and grave – you couldn’t find a woman who took the magic of Bessie Smith, or the heartbreak of Mahalia Jackson, and made it her own, but with a shattered glass exterior.

She wasn’t trying to be pretty, to be timid – instead, her music was vicious, it was sexual and without pause. By acting a fool, showing off her bedroom charms, she was one of the few who helped lay the groundwork for what would incubate rock and roll.

big momma album

A woman taken by the blues

Hound Dog ain’t Elvis’ tune. It was hers. Ball and Chain didn’t belong to Janis Joplin, but yet again, it was a cover of a Big Momma cut. Acting as a beacon of strength for independent black women, Big Momma Thornton was an idealist, in that she took life by the hair and swung it around, on her terms and without the governance of a man telling her what to do.

In a time when it was hard enough being a woman in the music business, Big Momma Thornton challenged gender norms by dressing like a man in slacks and collared shirts and was openly gay. She drank with the men in her life, and when one would get out of line, she’d box his ears in just the same.

And when she picked up a harp, could she blow. Performing Down Home Shakedown Big Momma Thornton held court against the greats of her time such as John Lee Hooker – She could run through the lines of a song with as much flair as Little Walter, or with the bite of Howlin’ Wolf, and both men respected her for it.

big momma 2

A lesson in flipping the script on gender roles

As we make efforts to show the immeasurable contributions made by women in popular culture, and the world in 2017 – you can’t gauge the influence of Big Momma Thornton. She was just too much, too big. You ain’t getting Amy Winehouse or Janis Joplin’s bravado without Big Momma. She opened the door for ladies to box on their heels for their space and their rights in the world of men.

She was one of a kind and certainly one of the greatest voices in blues. Without her, who knows who we’d have missed. But, having her we’re treated for all time to a sound that is bonafide, a chaotic, rattle the doors off the joint gift like no other.

 Get to your local record store and buy some Big Momma Thornton wax, it’ll get you right in ways you didn’t know you were wrong.

Robert Dean.png

Robert Dean, Biography –

Robert Dean is a writer/journalist/cynic. His most recent book, The Red Seven is available now from Necro Publications. He’s currently at work on his third book. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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Photos of Big Momma Thornton pulled from Internet –

Big Momma Photo

Album Cover

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Celebrating Women Series: Nike Campbell-Fatoki Writes on Funlayo Alabi and Her Empowerment of African Women

Welcome to the 15th article in the “Celebrating Women” Series for Women’s History Month! It’s the first time I’ve coordinated an author guest article series to celebrate women in history or women making history! Thank you to Nike Campbell-Fatoki for this next article. If you’d like to continue on with the tour, which runs March 19-31, 2014, follow along each day on the main blog or head to this blog page, Women in History, which will be updated daily with the scheduled link.

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Women’s History Month – Woman Making History
Funlayo Alabi of Shea Radiance: Empowering African Women
by Nike Campbell-Fatoki, author and business owner

“Shea Radiance represents the full circle of giving that uplifts women all the way through the value chain. from seed to shelf.”

Not many companies can say that they started off with the goal of helping the community. Not many can say they were motivated to give back seeing the hardship of others. It is usually an afterthought.

shea-radiance-natural-funlayo-alabiNot so with Funlayo Alabi and Shea Radiance – an eco-luxury beauty brand, located in Columbia, Maryland a suburb in the Washington DC metropolitan Area. Shea Radiance creates effective and luxurious beauty products using shea butter as the key active ingredient. Delivered in sustainable packaging, the products positively impact the lives of women and children in Nigeria.

Shea-Radiance-Abuja-Nigeria-2013-35Shea radiance was borne out of a necessity as so many innovative things are. Funlayo’s son suffered from dry and eczema-prone skin. In 2005, a search for a cure led Funlayo and her husband, Shola, back to their homeland, Nigeria, West Africa. They witnessed the hardship of the women – lack of access to education and good health care – who gathered the nuts to produce raw shea butter and were moved.

Inspired to make a difference, they have created channels for women to sell their products and earn disposable income. Women who have the desire to work and make money for their family but do not have the financial capacity are given the opportunity through training, cooperative building and capacity building.

Shea-Radiance-Abuja-Nigeria-2013-31Shea Radiance’s core values are quality and integrity. The company continues to reach back and buy raw shea butter from the women.

Funlayo Alabi makes Nigeria and Africa proud. Today, she is making history as a woman who cares for her fellow women and is doing something about it. She recognizes that women hold the key to a life out of poverty. As Dr. James Aggrey stated, “If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate woman, you educate a nation.”

Shea communities (3)

Connect with Shea Radiance at www.shearadiance.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shearadiance
Twitter: https://twitter.com/shearadiance

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Nike Campbell-Fatoki, Biography~

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Funlayo Alabi (l) and Nike Campbell-Fatoki (R)

Nike Campbell-Fatoki is the author of Thread of Gold Beads, a historical fiction novel published in November 2012 in the US and 2013 in Nigeria.

She dabbles in poetry, has a passion for mentoring and is an advocate for domestic violence victims.

She loves traveling, watching movies, and listening to music. She is also the owner and creative director of Eclectic Goodies, an African-inspired home décor, party favors and gifts packaging company.

Her passion continues to be having a positive impact in people’s lives where ever she goes. She does this through the platforms available to her – writing, blogging, and public speaking.

She is presently writing her second novel, a collection of short stories. She lives in the Washington DC area with her family.

To learn more and connect with Nike, visit http://www.nikecfatoki.com

http://www.facebook.com/nikecfatoki
http://www.facebook.com/eclecticg
Twitter handle: @nikecfatoki

Blog: http://www.nikecampbellfatoki.blogspot.com
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+NikeCampbellFatoki

Thread of Gold Beads, Synopsis~

thread of gold beadsAmelia, daughter of the last independent King of Danhomè, King Gbèhanzin, is the apple of her father’s eye, loved beyond measure by her mother, and overprotected by her siblings. She searches for her place within the palace amidst conspirators and traitors to the Kingdom.

Just when Amelia begins to feel at home in her role as a Princess, a well-kept secret shatters the perfect life she knows. Someone else within the palace also knows and does everything to bring the secret to light. A struggle between good and evil ensues causing Amelia to leave all that she knows and loves. She must flee Danhomè with her brother, to south-western Nigeria.

In a faraway land, she finds the love of a new family and God. The well-kept secret thought to have been dead and buried, resurrects with the flash of a thread of gold beads. Amelia must fight for her life and what is left of her soul.

during the French-Danhomè war of the late 1890s in Benin Republic and early 1900s in Abeokuta and Lagos, South-Western Nigeria, Thread of Gold Beads is a delicate love story, and coming of age of a young girl. It clearly depicts the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversities.

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100 Year Anniversary of Women Marching on Washington: Celebrating Women’s History Month

 March is Women’s History Month!

That’s a very special remembrance for me, not only because I am a woman myself, but because I am such a strong advocate for women’s rights. There have been some amazing women in history, who’ve made history, or even are currently making history! I love the swarm of historical fiction books on the rise featuring some trailblazing women or women who pushed the boundaries and limits, knowing that they had just as much right as men to vote, or fly, or perform scientific breakthroughs, and the list goes on.

On my site this month, I am featuring authors who have guest posts about WOMEN IN HISTORY or WOMEN WHO ARE MAKING HISTORY!

The first one is about the anniversary of the suffragist’s march by author Mona Rodriguez. If you have a guest post you’d like to appear, please feel free to contact me at hookofabook@hotmail.com!

Celebrating the Woman’s Right to Vote
by Mona Rodriguez, Author of Forty Years in a Day

Mona RodriguezMarch 3, 2013 marked 100 years since suffragists marched on Washington!

In my historical novel, Forty Years in a Day, which I coauthored with my cousin Dianne Vigorito, one of our characters is a young Italian immigrant woman named Catherina who becomes passionate about the progression of the women’s rights movement.

Standing up for her beliefs and advocating women’s rights, she puts her life in danger by handing out flyers on street corners and attending rallies.

She communicated her reasoning quite eloquently when she said, “If there’s to be true democracy, there needs to be changes. Why, it’s an American right to vote, denied only to criminals, lunatics, and women. How ridiculous is that?”

There are many famous women in history who have fought against convention for justice and equality, and there are also millions of lesser known women from all walks of life who have faced incredible obstacles in pursuit of freedom and opportunity. In the end, all women, no matter how famous or unknown, who have helped change the course of history for the betterment of all should be remembered and saluted.

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Forty Years in a Day Info and Synopsis~

FYIAD cover_395x597Paperback: 6 x 9
388 Pages
Release Date: 2013-02-19
Tate Publishing

What is the connection between an infamous Irish mob boss and an Italian immigrant family?

The story begins in Italy, 1900. After years of torment and neglect, Victoria and her four small children immigrate to Hell’s Kitchen, New York, to escape her alcoholic, abusive husband. On the day they leave, he tragically dies, but she does not learn of his death for several years—a secret that puts many lives on hold.

Quickly, they realize America’s streets are not paved with gold, and the limits of human faith and stamina are tested time and time again. Poverty, illness, death, kidnapping, and the reign of organized crime are just some of the crosses they bear.

Victoria’s eldest son, Vincenzo, is the sole surviving member of the family and shares a gut-wrenching account of their lives with his daughter during a visit to Ellis Island on his ninetieth birthday.

Forty Years in a Day is layered with the struggles and successes of each family member and defines the character of an era. Follow the Montanaro family through several decades, and stand in the shoes of a past generation.

Learn more at: http://www.fortyyearsinaday.com/ and see the trailer: http://youtu.be/AfJ5p4qCzmM

Mona Rodriguez and Dianna Vigorito, Biography~

Mona Rodriguez and Dianne Vigorito are cousins. Throughout their lives, they had heard many stories from family members that were fascinating, sometimes even unbelievable, and decided to piece together the puzzle of tales. Through research and interviews, their goal was to create a fictional story that follows a family through several decades, providing the reader an opportunity to stand in the shoes of a past generation and walk in search of their hopes and dreams. What they realize in the process is that human emotions have been the same throughout generations – the difference is how people are molded and maneuvered by the times and their situations.

Mona and Dianne strongly believe there is tremendous knowledge to be gained from those who are older and wiser, a resource precariously looming at everyone’s fingertips.

 Mona and Dianne live with their husbands in New Jersey and they each have two grown sons. This is their first novel together.

Mona Rodriguez

​Dianne Vigorito

 Thank you, Mona, for a thoughtful post about women in history who made history! Any women in history intrigue you?

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