re: Is there prejudice in the cabaret business?
Last Edit: WaymanWong 08:05 pm EDT 08/04/20
Posted by: WaymanWong 07:54 pm EDT 08/04/20
In reply to: Is there prejudice in the cabaret business? - cantsings 12:13 pm EDT 07/30/20

First, welcome to All That Chat! Cabaret is not off-topic at all. Many terrific performers got their start in the clubs, like Barbra Streisand and Johnny Mathis. Many theater artists do cabaret, and sometimes, cabaret shows move Off-Broadway, like ''Forbidden Broadway,'' ''Nunsense,'' etc.

I covered and attended New York cabarets for about two decades. I even reviewed numerous acts and profiled many performers for the N.Y. Daily News, and the Manhattan Association of Cabarets and Clubs (MAC) acknowledged my work with a special Board of Directors award.

As a journalist of color, I've always noticed that cabaret is overwhelmingly white, but there's nothing inherently prejudiced about the artform. From what I could tell, club owners haven't been actively keeping ethnic artists off their stages, and MAC and the Cabaret Convention haven't sought to discriminate or discourage them. During those two decades while I was on the beat, very few African-Americans, Asian-Americans and Latinos performed in cabaret (let alone choose to write about it, or run for MAC's board of directors). Why? It's purely speculation, but the possible reasons may range from historical to cultural. The BistroAwards.com article that you referenced - ''Why Is Color Mostly Absent From Cabaret Stages?'' by Lisa Jo Sagolla - includes insightful interviews with Natalie Douglas, Aaron Lee Battle, etc., and I've linked it below for anyone who hasn't seen it.

As a fellow person of color, I, too, would love to see a more diverse and younger universe of cabaret artists. It's paramount to the future of this special artform. And while I understand why you feel ''there's a prejudice ... that's shutting out young singers who are hungry to work,'' I suspect the reality is more complex than that. At the end of the day, it's expensive to do cabaret; it takes a long time to develop a following, and there is little work that pays anyone, regardless of age or race. Still, I believe there's room for more people of color in the clubs, and maybe you'll be among those brave and bold enough to break through. If you continue in this new COVID-era cabaret, please post a press release here and break a leg!
Link BistroAwards.com: Why Is Color Mostly Absent From Cabaret Stages?

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