Bill Egan on "The Noshing with Nina Show"

 

Nina Kennedy and Bill Egan


Bill Egan, author of the new book African American Entertainers in Australia and New Zealand: A History, 1788-1941, is our special guest on this month's episode of The Noshing with Nina Show. Filmed while he was in New York on his way to the Duke Ellington International Study Group Conference in Washington, D.C. - which was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic - Bill sat down with us in the lobby of the Empire Hotel near Lincoln Center to discuss his book.

Bill shared with us his enthusiasm for Broadway star Florence Mills, and how his research on her life eventually led to further research on other African American performers who came to Australia and New Zealand in the 19th century and beyond. We first came in contact with Egan when he responded to host Nina Kennedy's blog on pianist Leota Henson, who traveled to Australia as piano accompanist for Frederick Loudin's Fisk Jubilee Singers. He even requested permission to publish the photograph of Leota Henson that had belonged to Nina's grandmother, Nina Hortense Clinton. Thus began a year-long online conversation.

Leota Henson
Originally from Ireland, Bill Egan lived in London for many years, where he researched Florence Mills' career on the London stage. She was a major celebrity in London, and was often an invited guest at events hosted by the Royal Family. Bill shared with us a letter he received from the office of the Queen Mother, who remembered being in the audience for Florence Mills' performances. Mills was also known for making donations to the poor, and was well-loved by the British people.

Egan eventually made his home in Australia, where he manages the Florence Mills website. We look forward to more books penned by him, and a new television series based on the book.


Tune in for the November show on Wednesday the 18th at 3:00 pm. in Manhattan on MNN2. You can also live stream at www.mnn.org/watch. It will be broadcast in Brooklyn the following week on Monday the 23rd and Wednesday the 25th at noon and 5:00 pm. on BRIC2.

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