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World War II and Female Musicians

            World War II was a demanding time for the United States' men and women. Due to the draft that President Roosevelt requested in 1940, many men of all ages were taken to fight for their country, which left women to fight to keep their families afloat. The irony of it all was that men were forced to leave the decision making process to their wives, daughters, sisters and mothers which they otherwise would not have done. Under any other circumstances women would have never been given such opportunities. The stereotypical housewife was put to the test in World War II, beckoning them to more than just sewing and proper housework. .
             Women were able to help in a variety of ways including running businesses and creating women orchestras to travel as entertainment for the troops overseas, much like we do today. For the women in the music industry this was such an incredible opportunity. One of the most well known women jazz orchestras of World War II was the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. The International Sweetheart of Rhythm was an international group of women who did not fit the "strictly patrolled black/white color line" discusses Sherrie Tucker in her book Swing Shift about 1940's all-girl bands. In the beginning the Sweethearts used the band as a survival strategy against racial segregation but as time passed the International Sweethearts became a popular selling point amongst the African American audiences. They began to be heard on the black theatre circuit, including Apollo in New York, the Paradise in Detroit, and the Howard in Washington D.C, at numberless dance halls and auditoriums through out the United States, at military camps both stateside and in Europe when the band traveled on USO tours, and over the airwaves courtesy Armed Forces Radio broadcasts of "Jubilee," a show targeting African American soldiers. This exposure eventually lead to the soldiers' request for them as entertainments on their military tours.

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