Contralto Marian Anderson made her annual appearance in the Twin Cities on March 20, 1940, at the Minneapolis Auditorium. Her program was predominantly classical, with an ending section of Negro Spirituals.
Dining Car Employee’s Union Local 516 gave their third annual dance at Stem Hall, St. Paul Auditorium, on April 19, 1940. Music was provided by El Herbert and his Swing Band. Committee members represented the Omaha, Soo Line, Great Northern, and Northern Pacific Railroads.
Les Hite and his Cotton Club Orchestra came from Los Angeles to play for a dance at Stem Hall at the St. Paul Auditorium on May 4, 1940. It was Hite’s first appearance in the Twin Cities. Hite, with torch singer Tonie Anthony and Cudellus Martin, saxophonist from the Twin Cities, was dubbed “the heat wave from California” that “taught Hollywood how to swing.”
KSTP’s Sunset Valley Barn Dance began a series of Saturday night broadcasts on October 26, 1940. See TV Shows.
Baritone Paul Robeson appeared at Northrop Auditorium on October 23, 1940, as part of the University Artists Course. This was his first U.S. tour following four years of touring in Europe. Robeson sang folk songs on tour, but was also an acclaimed actor, appearing in “Emperor Jones,” “All God’s Chillun,” “Porgy,” and “Show Boat.”
October 26, 1940, was a Homecoming Dance at the St. Paul Auditorium, Ramsey Hall, with music by the Southern Serenaders.
On October 26, 1940, the Clef Club was described as newly decorated and reopened with a “big imported floor show.” “The Clef Club will be the night club in the Twin Cities catering to Negro patronage,” reported the Spokesman. Manager Scottie Williams promised a show with “a snappy group of entertainers” including:
- Carroll Lee, female impersonator
- Alma Smith, torch singer
- Chase and Ray, the “Brown Dots,” dancers par excellence
- A chorus of dancing girls, in a show produced by Jackie Hudson
- Music by Walter Lear and His Six-Piece Orchestra
On November 21, 1940, an Inaugural Ball was held at the St. Paul Auditorium to crown the Mayor of Bronzeville. Salesman James W. “Jimmy” Slemmons was elected Mayor, campaigning on the fight for jobs for the black community.
The Clef Club, “Twin Cities Brightest Night Spot,” presented a Big Surprise Floor Show starting on December 21, 1940. Party goers were invited to see Jessie Scott do the “La Congo.”
Jessie Scott was at the Clef Club on New Year’s Eve, 1940, as well, along with “Skip, Hop and Jump, Three Dancing Demons.” Music was provided by Walter Lear and His Gents of Rhythm.