Joyce Bryant sings for first time on a dare

She was a teenager visiting cousins in Los Angeles. They went to a local club where an impromptu singalong began. On a dare she got up on stage to sing. Soon she was the only one singing. The club owner offered her $25 to stay on stage. She needed the money to get home so she continued to perform.

This was the beginning of what would become a legendary career for Joyce Bryant. She became a top nightclub performer, famous for her voice and for her look.

But she also used her position to fight for civil rights, becoming the first African American to perform in many places around the U.S.

Joyce tired of the nightclub scene by her late 20s and so she walked away from her lucrative career. Eventually though she came back. But this time under her own rules as a classical vocalist. And just like her previous music career, she found success.

Joyce Bryant

“Joyce Bryant sings for first time on a dare” sources:!__intro/joyce-bryant, and “Joyce Bryant’s Best Kept Secrets”. Jet (Johnson Publishing Company) 7 (21): 59–61. March 31, 1955. ISSN 0021-5996 / Photograph of Joyce taken in 1953 – Van Vechten, Carl, photographer. Portrait of Joyce Bryant. Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.


Click here to read a snapshot biography of another singer, Billie Holiday.

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