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re: "Fats" Waller and His Music in 3 Tony Best Musical Nominees (including 1 Winner)
Last Edit: WaymanWong 08:28 pm EDT 10/17/21
Posted by: WaymanWong 08:12 pm EDT 10/17/21
In reply to: "Fats" Waller and His Music in 3 Tony Best Musical Nominees (including 1 Winner) - BroadwayTonyJ 12:09 pm EDT 10/17/21

Given that Waller and Blake's songs were written decades ago, I think the Tonys should've recognized them with Special Tony Awards.

Prior to 1979, special Tony Awards had been given to Richard Rodgers, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, Noel Coward, etc.

Yes, it was a nice gesture to recognize the 92 years young Blake in 1979, but the Tonys should've honored him with an outright salute, rather than make him a ''loser'' in Best Score, where, as you note, Stephen Sondheim was a prohibitive favorite to win. I would, however, dispute that it was ''a harmless gesture'' to give Blake a Tony nomination; it probably bumped out Carol Hall, a rare female composer/lyricist. worthy of Tony recognition.

At any rate, the Tonys could've done more to recognize the legacy of African-American songwriters on Broadway.

Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like Charlie Smalls is the first African-American composer-lyricist to win a Tony (in 1975) for ''The Wiz.'' And nearly a half-century later, Smalls remains the only one. (At the very first Tony Awards in 1947, Kurt Weill won a Tony for Best Composer for ''Street Scene,'' but there was no Tony given for Best Lyricist, so the lyrics of Langston Hughes, the legendary African-American poet, went unrecognized.)
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