S.A.C. International Women’s Day Focus: Salome Bey

Salome Bey_ International Women's Day March 8, 2019 (IG) (4)

She’s won awards for her stage work – singing, acting, and writing. She toured the U.S. with her brother and sister, billed as Andy and the Bey Sisters. The sibling act also toured Europe. Touring brought Salome Bey to her soon-to-be-adopted country, Canada, in 1961. She would settle here permanently some five years later.

Salome Bey was born in Newark, one of nine children, on October 10, 1933. Bey played music from an early age, but didn’t release her own records until 1970, when, perhaps making up for lost time, both CBC and Canadian Talent Library (with Quality Records) each put out eponymous Salome Bey albums. To add to that confusion, some, but not all the cuts appear on both records.

Starting with “Spring Thaw” in Toronto in 1969, Bey performed in stage musicals through much of the 1970’s, bouncing between New York City and Toronto. She recorded vocals on a couple of Horace Silver albums in the early 1970’s. Galt McDermot’s record label, released “Songs from Dude” in 1972. He wrote the songs which Bey sang in her lead role in the Broadway production.

Bey found success on and off Broadway, winning an OBIE (Off-Broadway theatre award) for “Love Me, Love My Children.” On Broadway, “Your Arms Are Too Short To Box With God” resulted in a Grammy nomination for the original cast recording.

In 1978-79, Bey wrote and starred in “Indigo,” a musical production about the history of Black music. She also played a string of European jazz festivals, and some of this material was released by Radio Canada (French CBC) as “Jazz Canada Europe” in 1979. Bey’s voice can also be heard on some live recordings by The Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir.

Continuing to celebrate the history of Black music, Bey, wrote and directed shows featuring Black female blues singers, including Madame Gertrude, about Ma Rainy which starred Jackie Richardson. “Sweetmama” was a staged biography Ethel Waters.

Salome Bey wrote and directed plays showcasing black female singers – “Madame Gertrude” (about Ma Rainy and starring Jackie Richardson) as well as a production called “Sweet Mama” which was about Ethel Waters.

Dubbed “Canada’s First Lady of the Blues,” Salome Bey became a member of the Order of Canada in 2005. Sadly, she had started showing signs of dementia by this time and had retired from music and theatre stages alike.

Following her retirement, Bey moved into the Lakeside Long Term Care home with her husband Howard Mathews, who passed away in 2016. Matthews started The Underground Railroad restaurant and met Bey there in 1961, on her first local visit. Before that, he ran The First Floor Club, a jazz music after-hours club.

Bey passed away on August 8, 2020 at Lakeside. She is survived by her son Marcus Matthews and her two daughters. Jacintha Tuku and SATE (formerly Saidah Baba Taliba) sometimes backed their mother on stage as The Relatives. Salome Bey’s family has asked well-wishers to consider donating to The Freedom School Toronto, whose trustee may be reached here; Karen@childrenspeacetheatre.org.

S.A.C. published an In Memoriam piece for Salome here.

Blog post by Erik Twight

Erik Twight is, at present, a Freelance Writer, maintaining a web presence specializing in current affairs, history, photography and music and producing a weekly podcast/radio show arranged thematically and with commentary for fun. Click here to read more.

Spotify Ep. 6

Playlist:

Song: Washed Away
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: Untitled Love Song
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: Young At Heart
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: Am I Blue
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: A Kiss To Build A Dream On
Written and performed by: Salome Bey
Album: I Like Your Company
Source: Duke Street Records

Song: Warrior
Performed by: SATE
Written by: Saidah Matthews, Thomas McKay
Produced by: David Click Cox
Album: Red Black & Blue
Release Year: 2016
Source: Discogs

Song: Know My Name
Performed by: SATE
Written by: Saidah Matthews, Hill Kourkoutis
Produced by: David Click Cox
Album: Red Black & Blue
Release Year: 2016
Source: Discogs

Song: Mama Talk To Me
Performed by: SATE
Written by: Saidah Matthews, Thomas McKay
Produced by: David Click Cox
Album: Red Black & Blue
Release Year: 2016
Source: Discogs

Song: The Answer
Performed by: SATE
Written by: Saidah Matthews, W.Mccord
Produced by: David Click Cox
Album: Red Black & Blue
Release Year: 2016
Source: Discogs

Song: Dirty Little Lie
Performed by: SATE
Written by: SATE, Hill Kourkoutis, Merna Bishouty, Ricky Tillo
Produced by: David Click Cox
Album: Dirty Little Lie
Release Year: 2019
Source: YouTube, Discogs

Songwriters Association of Canada posts songwriter related news and events as a resource to members. Publishing these posts does not imply that the S.A.C. endorses the teacher, product, service, or company.

 

2 thoughts on “S.A.C. International Women’s Day Focus: Salome Bey

  1. Pingback: Salome Bey: International Women’s Day Focus at Songwriters Association of Canada – Erik Twight

  2. Pingback: In Memoriam: Salome Bey, Canada’s First Lady of the Blues, 1933-2020 – Songwriters Association of Canada

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