Radio stars (June 1933)

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RADIO STARS (Above) Juano and Rose McClendon being directed by Geraldine Garrick. These negro players are immensely popular. (Left) Juano Hernandez again, doing his stuff. Juano Hernandez is the man who plays that famous negro character, "John Henry" on the air. And Juano understands that part better than anyone on earth VOODOO on the AIR By HILDA COLE JOHN HENRY" is on the air. To those of you who don't know the South, and its folk legends, this must mean nothing. To Southerners whose roots are deep in the history of slavery and emancipation, it means a fresh and startling program to take the ragged edge off today's hi-de-hi and vo-de-o-do "scat" singing that has heen, up to now, the Negro's principal contribution to entertainment. Yes, ''John Henry" is different and startling. Nothing approaching this Black River legend has ever materialized, flesh and blood, in the ether. For John Henry is a person, a legendary giant of prodigious powers conjured in the minds of many generations of black folk. Roark Bradford. the writer, was the first white man to understand him and put him on paper. From this book these radio plays are adapted, ft was no easy job, this penand-ink capture. For John Henry was a man! "The night he was born," Bradford wrote, "the moon was copper colored and the sky was black. The stars wouldn't shine and the rain fell hard. Forked lightning cleaved the air and the earth trembled like a leaf. The panthers squalled in the brake like a baby, and the Mississippi ran upstream a thousand miles. John Henry weighed forty-four pounds." It took no time at all for this new-born babe to show his mammy and his pappy and the nurse woman that he possessed a bass voice like a preacher, shoulders like a cotton-rolling roustabout, and blue gums like a "conjure man." It was shortly after his birth that he "reared back in his bed and broke out the slats." "Don't make me mad," said John Henry, and the thunder rumbled and rolled. "Don't make me mad on de day I'm bawn, 'cause I'm scared of my ownse'f when I gits mad." (Continued on page 49) 33