Footnotes is the remarkable true story of the Black artists behind the unlikely Broadway sensation, Shuffle Along, that brought jazz into the mainstream and helped usher in the Harlem Renaissance—in the aftermath of a World War, decimated economy, worldwide pandemic,and the most violent period of racial violence since the Civil War.
Through interviews with family members, personal photographs and extensive research, author Caseen Gaines pulls back the curtain and reveals how these artists defied the odds to become internationally-renowned trailblazers, who forever changed the look and sound of our popular entertainment.
Set primarily in 1920s New York City, in a heavily-segregated America still grappling with the lasting impact of slavery,Footnotes follows Noble Sissle, Eubie Blake, Flournoy Miller, and Aubrey Lyles, four dynamic entertainers, composers, lyricists and musicians, who, over the course of the past one hundred years,went from front-page headlines to historical footnotes.
Footnotes will be published on May 25, 2021 to coincide with the centennial of the premiere of Shuffle Along, the Broadway musical with an all-Black cast and all-Black creative team that forever changed the face of the Great White Way
“This musical introduced Black excellence to the Great White Way. Broadway was forever changed and we, who stand on the shoulders of our brilliant ancestors, are charged with the very often elusive task of carrying that torch into our present. I am humbled to have been part of the short-lived 2016 historical telling of how far we’ve come, starring as Aubrey Lyles in Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed—and happy that Footnotes further secures his place in history.” —Billy Porter, Tony and Emmy Award-winning actor
“What a gift! Footnotes is beautifully written, with Caseen Gaines telling a story that is absolutely vital to both the past and future of the theater.”— Rachel Chavkin, Tony Award-winning director of Hadestown
“Learning about this show and performing in the 2016 Broadway production was life changing in more ways than one. More importantly, it affirmed the responsibility to not only discover the treasures, work, and history of our ancestors, but to also shed light on such treasures and remind the world of the excellence and greatness of our people. For there is no ‘we’ without ‘them.’”—Adrienne Warren, Tony Award nominee
“Gaines offers an animated, well-researched history of the creation, production, and long afterlife of Shuffle Along… A spirited, educative contribution to both theater history and Black history.” - Kirkus Reviews
“In Gaines’s hands, the artists come to life as groundbreakers—and later civil rights advocates (Sissle was president of the Negro Actors Guild in 1935)—who paved the way for artists to come. This vibrant history is well worth checking out.” - Publishers Weekly
“Theater buffs and students of Black history will be pleased by this cogent defense of Shuffle Along.” - Library Journal
"The remarkable story of the 1921 trailblazing, all-Black musical, Shuffle Along, is explored in this well-researched and engrossing new book by pop-culture historian Gaines...through a well-paced and compelling narrative style, Gaines pays homage to the show that augured a new era for artists of color on Broadway." - Booklist