Friday, June 28, 2024

NFR Project: Fox Movietone News --Jenkins Orphanage Band (1928)


Fox Movietone News: Jenkins Orphanage Band

Premiere: 1928

3 min.

I could not possibly do a better job of explaining this early sound short than Julie Hubbert does on the Library of Congress website. I urge you to read her essay here.

She explains the origin of the Jenkins Orphanage in Charleston, SC, and how its founder, the Reverend Daniel Jenkins, thought of starting a band to perform and raise money for the institution. (The Fisk Jubilee Singers led the way with this practice, beginning their performances in 1866.) She outlines the band’s development, brings up a few of the noted jazz musicians who got their start with Jenkins, and reveals how prestigious participation in the ensemble became. The band is even said to have been the original inspiration for the famous dance of the 1920s, the Charleston.

Here we have a simple, straight-on take of the entire band, standing on a sidewalk and blaring out “Shoutin’ Eliza.” The band seems composed primarily of brass and drums, and they swing through their rendition with a lively swagger.

The NFR is one writer’s attempt to review all the films listed in the National Film Registry in chronological order. Next time: Lonesome.

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