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Dig Deeper: Ma Rainey and Billie Holiday

Two films featuring revolutionary singers were released just a few months apart—Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and The United States vs. Billie Holiday. Premiering on Netflix on Nov. 25, 2020, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, (named after Rainey’s song of the same name), is adopted from August Wilson’s Tony-Award winning play of the same name. The film depicts tensions amongst Rainey and her band as they come together to record a new album at a Chicago music studio in 1927.

The United States vs. Billie Holiday premiered on Hulu on Feb. 26, 2021. Based on Johann Hari’s novel Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs, the film follows Holiday’s career as the Federal Department of Narcotics launches an undercover sting operation against the jazz singer.

Both films have received numerous accolades and nominations:

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom 

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role—Viola Davis as Ma Rainey (2021 Academy Award Nominee)
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role—the late Chadwick Boseman as Levee Green (2021 Academy Award Nominee)
  • Best Achievement in Costume Design—Ann Roth (2021 Academy Award Nominee)
  • Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling—Sergio Lopez-Rivera, Mia Neal and Jamika Wilson (2021 Academy Award Nominee) 
  • Best Achievement in Production—Production Design: Mark Ricker; Set Decoration: Karen O’Hara and Diana Stoughton (2021 Academy Award Nominee) 
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture: Drama—the late Chadwick Boseman as Levee Green (2021 Golden Globe Winner, Posthumously)
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture: Drama—Viola Davis as Ma Rainey (2021 Golden Globe Nominee)

The United States vs. Billie Holiday 

  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role—Andra Day as Billie Holiday (2021 Academy Award Nominee)
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture: Drama—Andra Day as Billie Holiday (2021 Golden Globe Winner)
  • Best Original Song: Motion Picture—For song “Tigress & Tweed,” Raphael Saadiq: music/lyrics, Andra Day: music/lyrics (2021 Golden Globe Nominee) 

Rainey and Holiday were trailblazing singers: Rainey was famed “The Mother of the Blues” and Holiday had a major influence on jazz and swing genres. Dig deeper and explore the links below for additional information on the groundbreaking performers.

Ma Rainey Georgia Jazz Band pose for a studio group shot c 1924-25 with ‘Gabriel’, Albert Wynn, Dave Nelson, Ma Rainey, Ed Pollack and Thomas A Dorsey. (Photo by JP Jazz Archive/Redferns/Getty Images)

Ma Rainey 

Although records suggest that Rainey was born in Alabama in September 1882, Rainey stated she was born Gertrude Pridgett in Columbus, Georgia on April 26, 1886. “Known for her thunderous, moaning voice, sharp comic timing and compelling stage presence, Rainey was a pioneer of early blues music.”

Rainey began singing as a teenager, performing in a local Columbus stage show called “A Bunch of Blackberries.” She married fellow performer Will Rainey in 1904 and they began touring with the Rabbit’s Foot Company, billing themselves as “Ma and Pa Rainey.” After her marriage ended, Rainey established her own performance company, “Madame Gertrude Rainey and her Georgia Smart Sets.” Her band became one of the highest paid acts on tour.

Rainey wrote a third of her songs, and often sang about her bisexuality. “Angela Davis called Rainey’s 1928 song “Prove it on Me,” a precursor to the lesbian cultural movement of the 1970s.” In 1923 Rainey signed with Paramount Records and recorded nearly 100 records. She continued to tour, however by 1935 Paramount had gone bankrupt and her records were no longer distributed. She retired and worked as a theatre proprietor in Georgia until her death in 1939. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990.

 

Jazz singer Billie Holiday wears a large white flower in her hair for a performance in New York City. (© Bradley Smith/CORBIS)

Billie Holiday 

Holiday was born Eleanora Fagan Gough on April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia. Singing in her teens, Holiday began auditioning with pianists at jazz clubs in New York when she and her mother moved to the city in 1929. Borrowing her professional name from actress Billie Dove and her father Clarence Halliday, she “quickly became an active participant in what was then the most vibrant jazz scene in the country–as the Harlem Renaissance transitioned into the Swing Era.”

Producer John Hammond offered Holiday her first record deal and from 1935-1941 Holiday’s career skyrocketed—often collaborating with pianist Teddy Wilson and saxophonist Lester Young, who “famously christened her Lady Day.” In 1937, she joined Kansas City’s Count Basie Orchestra, whose shows were among the top billed performances of the time.

In the 1930’s, Holiday was at Café Society in Manhattan when she was introduced to the poem “Strange Fruit.” Written by Abel Meeropol, the poem details the horrific depiction of lynching in the Southern United States and in 1939 Holiday began signing the poem at her concerts. “Strange Fruit is ‘considered by scholars to be the first protest song of the Civil Rights era. The lyric was so controversial that Holiday’s record label wouldn’t record it, so she jumped over to the independent Commodore Records where she could record and sing as she pleased.'”

Holiday received multiple warnings from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics to stop singing “Strange Fruit,” though she never did. Henry Anslinger, the first commissioner of the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Bureau of Narcotics, exploited Holiday’s ongoing struggle with addiction to silence her. Holiday was arrested and convicted of narcotics possession in 1947 and sentenced to one year and a day in prison.

Upon release, Holiday had lost her cabaret card (no longer able to play in clubs that served alcohol), and began performing in concert halls. Still widely popular, she continued to tour and perform in the 1950’s though her substance abuse had taken its toll on her voice. She gave her final performance on May 25, 1959, in New York City. She passed away on July 17, 1959. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. 

 

 


 


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Falvey Fridays: Virtual Workshop Series

Falvey Memorial Library is pleased to announce “Falvey Fridays,” a workshop series drawn from our popular brown bag lunch sessions. Each workshop will provide new and exciting information on research methods, tools, and pedagogies for researchers of all levels. Registration is free and open to the Villanova community.

Please register for workshop sessions below. Once registered, you will be sent a Zoom link to the event.

Tabula: Extracting Tables from PDFs (Friday, March 26; 11 a.m.–12 p.m.)

Workshop led by Erica Hayes, Digital Scholarship Librarian.

If you’ve ever tried to do anything with data provided to you in PDFs, you know there’s no easy way to copy-and-paste rows of data from tables out of PDF files. Come learn more about Tabula, an open source tool for extracting data tables locked inside PDFs and how to import that data easily into a CSV or Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

Please REGISTER at the following link:

https://villanova.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEld-6qqT0jGtf_gLlSDe1fstCDdj2cNA-

Citation Management using Zotero (Friday, April 9; 11 a.m.–12 p.m.)

Workshop led by Sarah Hughes, Nursing & Life Sciences Librarian.

Serious research projects call for no-nonsense tools for taming citations. Learn how to use Zotero to save, organize, and share references.

Please REGISTER at the following link:

https://villanova.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJ0ud-qurTgqE9eNmezaCgojaU2-bjBTCpD-

Policy Map/Social Explorer (Friday, April 23; 11 a.m.–12 p.m.)

Workshop led by Deborah Bishov, Social Sciences & Instructional Design Librarian and Merrill Stein, Social Sciences Librarian.

Explore features of two easy-to-use, online demographic data mapping tools which draw on a combination of governmental, proprietary and open resources.  Map data of interest and export and save visualizations for research or teaching. Knowledge of GIS (geographical information systems) is not required.

Please REGISTER at the following link:

https://villanova.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJEscOGtqTwuGN1SqGzFYONpmNA65dIQ5H_h


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Cat in the Stax: Writing Resources

Next week marks the second working break of the semester and a great opportunity to stop procrastinating and sit down to write those papers. Below, I’ve compiled a handful of resources that have been lifesavers for me over the years. 

Writing Guides

These two writing guides have been recommended to me by a variety of different professors, mentors, and other students. They’ve also come in handy in a pinch while writing a paper. Rather than comb through resources online, having a writing guide next to me helps me find an easy answer. And the best part is that both are available in either Falvey’s collection or through an inter-library loan.

Style Guides

The worst feeling in the world is when you finally finish a research paper and then need to spend the next hour going back through, adding citations, and ensuring that it’s in the correct style. Below are links to style guides to the three most popular citation styles used in academic writing. 

The Library’s website also has additional citation resources that you can find here.

Resources at Falvey

Falvey has a wide range of research services that are available to all students. Below are links to a couple of highlighted resources.

  • Utilizing subject guides are a great way to find sources
  • The Villanova Writing Center is housed within Falvey and get help with any part of the process from brainstorming to outlining to editing and walking through your final draft.

Finally, remember that Falvey is always open with quiet study and writing spaces that you can utilize to write!


Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department.

 

 

 

 

 


 


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Senior Students and Faculty Mentors: Learn more about the Falvey Scholars Program!

Front of the Library with filter
Are you a senior student working on a research project utilizing Falvey Library’s resources? Or are you a faculty mentor to a senior student or group of students who are working on a research project? Please read on to learn about the Falvey Scholars Program!

The Falvey Scholars award is an annual program established by Falvey Memorial Library and the Center for Research and Fellowships (CRF) to recognize exceptional undergraduate research by senior-level students at Villanova.

To be considered for the Falvey Scholars award, the process is two-fold. First, faculty mentors are invited to nominate individual or group projects of senior students who have completed exemplary (and publicly presentable) scholarship or research. Then, students who are nominated by faculty mentors must also formally apply to be considered for the award.

In applying for the award, students are asked to share information about their overall research process, provide a detailed abstract of their project, as well as a comprehensive bibliography. The awards traditionally have an emphasis on work that has required substantial use of library resources. Students who are applying are asked to include information about library resources and services utilized including librarian assistance, databases, journals, books, Interlibrary Loan, etc. Students may also discuss how the library building aided in their research—from late night study sessions to a welcoming place to meet with professors, co-researchers and scholars.

A committee consisting of representatives from Falvey Memorial Library and CRF typically meets in mid-April to review nominations and applications and to select award winners. 5-7 students are annually granted Falvey Scholars awards.

Towards the end of the spring semester, Falvey Scholars award winners are recognized at a virtual presentation and reception ceremony event. This event includes presentations by each of the award recipients on their winning project and overall research process. Presentations highlight the use of Library resources.

In addition to being honored at the awards presentation event, Falvey Scholars will be interviewed and featured individually in our Library blog during the week leading up to Commencement and will be included in the Library’s newsletter, Mosaic. Digital copies of the winning papers are also maintained in the Digital Library.

Falvey Scholars is one of the keynote events of the annual Villanova Spring Research Exposition, or EXPO Week. EXPO is week-long series of events that celebrates the scholarly achievements of Villanova’s researchers—undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty. The Expo showcases a year’s worth of undergraduate research and student accomplishment in innovation and creativity as well as research done by our graduate students and faculty.

View the 2020 Falvey Scholars Awards virtual booklet here.


2021 Falvey Scholars Deadlines

Faculty: You can nominate students until Saturday, April 3 at 11:59 pm. Once nominated, students will be asked to apply in order to be considered for the award. Faculty mentors who plan to nominate should encourage students to apply. Please consider nominating a student who exemplifies the awards criteria.

Seniors: If you haven’t been nominated yet, ask your faculty mentor to nominate you for the award by Saturday, April 3 at 11:59 pm. Once nominated by your faculty mentor, you will be asked to formally apply for the award by Friday, April 9 at 11:59 pm.

Nomination/application forms as well as additional information about Falvey Scholars can be found here.

If you have questions, please contact: libraryevents@villanova.edu


gina duffy headshot

 

 

Regina Duffy is a Communication and Marketing Program Manager at Falvey Memorial Library.


 

 


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Villanova Commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—2021 Freedom School and MLK Keynote Address

Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor. Photo credited to Don Usner.

Dr. Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor will deliver the 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Keynote Address on Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 5 p.m. Her lecture entitled, “The Radical King and the Quest to Change America,” will be available through the MLK Keynote Zoom link.

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2020 and National Book Award Finalist in 2019, Taylor is assistant professor of African American Studies at Princeton University. She is the author or editor of five books, and her three authored books are available in both print and electronic formats via Falvey Memorial Library: 

Following Taylor’s keynote address, Villanova University will host its annual Freedom School, a day of learning that celebrates and extends the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.. Virtual sessions will be held throughout the day on Thursday, February 4, on a variety of topics. 

This year, Falvey represents at Freedom School via “Trusted News in a Hostile World: African American Newspapers and Magazines,” an interactive workshop on Thursday, Feb. 4, at 11:10 a.m., led by Jutta Seibert, Director of Research Services and Scholarly Engagement and Librarian for history, art history, and global interdisciplinary studies. Attendees will have the opportunity to explore news coverage of important events in African American history and will learn about several online databases for retrieving this content. For additional information on Seibert’s workshop and to access the full schedule of Freedom School events, visit the University’s Freedom School webpage.


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library. 



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Dig Deeper: “The Queen’s Gambit”

Anya Taylor-Joy as Beth Harmon in “The Queen’s Gambit.” Image courtesy of Netflix.

Since its release on Oct. 23, Netflix’s limited series “The Queen’s Gambit” has reignited interest in the game of chess. The New York Times reported, “Over the last year, sales of chess sets in the United States rose by around 25 percent, only slightly faster than the toy industry overall…but in the weeks since ‘The Queen’s Gambit’ premiered sales have grown 125 percent.”

The series, named after a chess opening, is based on the 1983 novel of the same name by Walter Tevis. Set in the 1960s, Netflix’s installment follows orphan and chess prodigy Elizabeth “Beth” Harmon on her journey to become the greatest player in the world. Although I had some knowledge of chess (shoutout to my fourth grade teacher Mrs. Pickerel!), the series delves into nuances of the game I’d never strongly grasped, including an array of opening, middle, and end game strategies.

While I haven’t read Tevis’ novel, I recommend Netflix’s adaptation if you’re looking for something to watch during the pandemic.

Interested in learning more about chess? Whether you’re as skilled as Garry Kasparov or can’t tell a pawn from a knight, Falvey Library has multiple resources on the history and strategies of the game. Check out a few below (most are accessible in e-book format). Contactless pickup is available for books, DVDs, and other circulating items from the Library’s online catalog.


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


 


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Foto Friday: Presidential Papers

 

Photo courtesy of Penguin Random House.


Former President Barack Obama’s memoir “A Promised Land” is the latest presidential memoir to be released. The first of two volumes, the book “encompasses parts of his early political life and his presidential campaign in 2008.” Whether you’ve already read “A Promised Land,” or are awaiting a copy of the memoir, be sure to explore President Obama’s other novels: “Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.” Former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama’s memoir “Becoming” is also available for contactless pickup at Falvey Library.

Looking for more resources about U.S. presidents? Be sure to explore these links curated by Merrill Stein, Political Science Librarian.


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.


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Dig Deeper: Advent Reflections

By Darren Poley


Happy New Year?

The new year begins on Jan. 1, right? According to the civil calendar, which is based on the Gregorian calendar, which generally supplanted the old Roman Julian calendar before it, yes. But it was not until the Gregorian calendar was adopted internationally that this was the case.

In fact, many religions and cultures still have their own reckoning of time; think of the Chinese New Year or Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish new year. Interestingly, Eastern Rite Catholics use the old Byzantine New Year, Sept. 1, and most Eastern Orthodox Christians still use the ancient Julian calendar. Because the Roman Catholic liturgical year consists of a seasonal cycle, the 2021 liturgical year begins on the First Sunday of the season of Advent, Nov. 29, 2020.

In the early Church there was one season celebrating the advent, birth, and epiphany of Jesus Christ. Eventually Advent proper became a preparatory season for the celebration of the nativity of Christ, what is now commonly called Christmas. Its roots are as a penitential season mirroring the season of Lent, which precedes the celebration of the resurrection of Christ, also known as Easter or Pascha.

Most recently the character of the Advent season is two-fold. It is meant to help the faithful to reflect on the prophecies of the second coming and anticipate Jesus Christ’s return in glory to judge the living and the dead, as well as to recall the messianic prophecies and the Incarnation of Jesus the Messiah two millennia ago.

Gathering for prayer, lighting candles on an advent wreath, and devotional reading are some typical activities for the Advent season. Here are some online books that Falvey offers which you can use to guide your Advent devotions:

Join Mission and Ministry for Advent reflections from the Villanova community. Sign up to receive seasonal reflections via a daily email, PDF booklet, or print booklet (limited quantity). Explore previous reflections here.


Darren Poley is librarian for Theology and Religious Studies; Humanities and Classical Studies at Falvey Memorial Library. 

 

 


 


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Foto Friday: Finals Can Get Ugly—Falvey Library Can Help

Villanova students stop for an ugly sweater photo with Will D. Cat during the 2016 Falvey Library Stress Busting Open House.


We’re reminiscing on this sunny Friday. We wish we could be hosting our annual stress busting open house. We’ve had so many fun events—from tasty treats (nacho bar, cereal bar, tater tot bar, dessert bar) to funky themes (spinning vinyl records, ugly sweater contests)—we always enjoy celebrating the end of the semester with the Villanova community.

“Finals can get ugly…so get help.” The ugly sweater theme from our Dec. 2016 open house rings true now more than ever—Falvey Library can help you virtually. Conducting research for a final project? Explore our collection of articles, e-books, and more! Looking for research assistance? Contact your subject librarian! Visit our blog for additional information on accessing Falvey’s resources off campus. Good luck on finals, ‘Cats!


Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.

 

 


 


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‘Cat in the Stax: Overcoming America’s #1 Fear

Jerry Seinfeld once said, “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” 

Unfortunately, at some point in your life, if it hasn’t happened already, you’re going to need to give a speech or presentation, especially in college. If you’re a rare college student or professional that has somehow managed to get through your academic career without public speaking—we would love to know how, so please share! 

Although I cannot say I never get nervous before a presentation, I did work as a public speaking tutor during my undergraduate studies and have some tips to share.

Tip #1 PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE

  • This probably isn’t the first time you’ve been told practice is important in public speaking and honestly, it probably won’t be the last. You can know the topic you’re presenting on inside and out, but that doesn’t mean that you know how to talk about it to a room full of students that know nothing about the topic. By practicing, you can figure out how to present the material in a clear and cohesive way. Practicing also boosts your confidence and reduces your nerves, which aids to a better sounding presentation. 

Tip #2 If something feels awkward, change it

  • This tip goes hand-in-hand with the importance of practicing. If a transition between topics feels awkward while you’re practicing or you cannot pronounce a word no matter how many times you listen to Google say it, find a way to change it. Anything that feels awkward in your dorm room or in front of your roommates is going to feel 10 times worse on the day of a presentation in front of your classmates and professor. Avoid the potential that these things will mess you up on the day-of by changing them ahead of time. 

Tip #3 Keep your slides concise

  • The purpose of presentation slides is to help your audience follow along with your topic or to enhance your topic through images. This means that as cute as a sad puppy may look in your presentation, if it is not adding valuable information to the topic, leave it out. As far as text on slides go, you don’t want it to be overwhelming. If you have a paragraph of information on your slide, people will be preoccupied reading the text instead of listening to what you have to say. Put key points on your slide to guide the audience through your speech and re-emphasize key points. 

Tip #4 Prepare your notecards strategically

  • In a similar way, while your slides are there to guide the audience, your notes or note cards are there to guide you! It can be tempting to write down every fact or even every word on your notecard, but doing that is just going to take away from the overall presentation and potentially confuse you. Only put down information on your note cards that you can’t remember during practice. Don’t be afraid to put presentation notes on your note cards too, like “slow down” or “switch slide here”!

Tip #5 Take advantage of available resources

  • Finally, make sure to take advantage of the various resources that you have here on campus. The Center for Speaking and Presentation can help you refine your public speaking skills and talk you through any issue or fear you may have about presenting. You can drop-in to the Learning Commons on the second floor of Falvey or make an appointment in advance here.

As we come up on the last month of the semester, make sure you’re taking advantage of your resources and being as prepared as possible for any assignments thrown your way! Did I miss any public speaking tips or resources? If I did, drop them in a comment below!


Jenna Newman is a graduate assistant in Falvey Memorial Library and a graduate student in the Communication Department. Current mood: Buying all the notecards available from Staples.


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Last Modified: November 11, 2020