Darktown Strutters

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The Darktown Strutters

An African vaudeville group the 1930s, led by Griffiths Motsieloa, whose repertoire consisted of a mixture of jazz, ragtime, comic sketches, jubilee and church (amakwaya) music. Their accompanying band was the Merry Blackbirds, headed by Peter Rezant. It was active by 1931 and one of many which had developed out of the minstrelsy tradition of the 1920s. The group itself had evolved out of Motsieloa’s own African Darkies. It had the patronage of Gallophone Records and took its shows on the road throughout the Union and beyond to places such as Bechanaland (now Botswana) and Lourenço Marques (now Maputo) in Mozambique. On one occasion at least (May 1936 at the BMSC) it performed in “An African Entertainment” under the auspices of Bertha Slosberg, who had claimed to have “discovered” them, as well as the (Mthethwa) Lucky Stars, who shared the bill with them on this occasion.

The Pitch Black Follies

In the 1938 the Darktown Strutters became the Pitch Black Follies, again under the leadership of Motsieloa, and undertook more ambitious dramatic work alongside their variety programmes.


Loren Kruger, 1999:29, 33; Ballantine 1993

For more information

See also Pitch Black Follies and Music hall

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