Praise for Sissieretta Jones, “The Greatest Singer of Her Race,” 1868-1933

Maureen D. Lee does yeoman’s work to excavate what facts there are about Jones’s life and career . . . . Her story is a moving one . . . [and] in documenting the struggles and triumphs of a true pioneer, Lee has recaptured the humanity of an important artist.
Opera News


In Sissieretta Jones: “The Greatest Singer of Her Race,” 1868-1933, Lee makes an extremely valuable contribution to the essence of Jones’s professional life. Lee creates a new niche and interpretation of Jones’s life that has yet to be examined. Exhaustive research, excellent organization of the material, and a very descriptive writing style all make this book an excellent read–it was difficult to put down!

Karen Chandler, Associate Professor, Arts Management, School of the Arts
Co-Founder/Principal, Charleston Jazz Initiative College of Charleston Charleston, SC

Maureen Lee has done a fantastic job bringing to light the life story of Sissieretta Jones. Much of this important vocalist’s life has been hidden and unknown. Lee brings forth small details about Mme Jones’s life and she does it in a way that makes a book that is so readable and enjoyable that it’s hard to put down. She made me very anxious to turn the page, to find out more about Black Patti. Filled with facts and historical information about the times, it’s easily one of the best musical biographies that I’ve read in a long time.

Eric Jackson, host of Jazz on WGBH with Eric Jackson (Boston, MA)

By tracing the full arc of Sissieretta Jones’s career, Maureen Lee has provided a detailed and highly informative review of a sadly neglected superstar singer of the American concert and vaudeville stage at the beginning of the twentieth century. The remarkable life and accomplishments of the “Black Patti”–complete with international tours and performances before four U.S. presidents–faithfully reported in this volume need to be more fully incorporated into the broad cultural story of America in order to understand the true diversity of our country’s entertainment history.

Thomas L. Riis, Director of American Music Research Center, University of Colorado College of Music and author of Just before Jazz: Black Musical Theater in New York

With meticulous research and scholarly attention to detail, Ms. Lee has penned a worthy contribution to the history of the 19th century African American concert artist, and has helped to shed light on the little known story of one of America’s greatest divas.

Rosalyn Story, author of And So I Sing: African American Divas of Opera and Concert

I have long awaited someone like Maureen Lee who would take a closer look at Sissieretta Jones, Rhode Island’s and the nation’s most successful African American singer during a difficult age. The result is a stunning biography of piercing intensity and beauty.

Ray Rickman, former president of the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society