Joyce Bryant, a popular singer, and performer during the 1940s and ‘50s who was known as “The Black Marilyn Monroe” has passed away, according to Legacy.com. She was 95.
Her passing was confirmed on her official Instagram page.
“What a woman she was. I will share our journey soon and please don’t forget auntie she loves each and everyone of you,” the post read.
Bryant was born on October 14, 1927, in Oakland, CA. She was the oldest of eight children and raised in a devout Seventh-day Adventist family.
By 1946, she agreed on a dare to sing at a local club while visiting cousins in Los Angeles.
"After a while," Bryant recalled in a 1955 JET interview, "I found I was the only one singing. A few minutes later, the club owner offered me $25 to go up on stage, and I took it because I [needed the money] to get home.”
Bryant developed her signature hairstyle after discovering she would be sharing the stage with the legendary Josephine Baker. Attempting to make an impression, she painted her hair with silver radiator paint and donned backless mermaid dresses. Some of her most popular hits included “Love for Sale,” “Runnin’ Wild,” and “Drunk with Love," which were banned on some stations because of provocative lyrics.
Throughout her career, she was often featured in Life magazine. She was listed as one of the five most beautiful Black women in the world in 1954 by EBONY magazine along with Lena Horne, Hilda Simms, Eartha Kitt and Dorothy Dandridge. In the mid-1950s, Bryant left the entertainment industry and became active in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. She also became involved in the civil rights movement by organizing fundraisers to help Black people in need of clothing, food and access to medical care.
A decade later, Bryant made a comeback to the stage in the 1960s as a trained classical vocalist. She went on to perform at the New York City Opera and toured internationally with the Italian, French and Vienna Opera companies.
In the 1980s, she returned to performing jazz in the 1980s and began a career as a vocal instructor, with such clients as Jennifer Holliday, Phyllis Hyman, and Raquel Welch.
We at EBONY extend our prayers and deepest condolences to the family and friends of Joyce Bryant.