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This article shows that African American jazz performers created a cosmopolitan diasporic network through transatlantic touring during the interwar years. Successful black musicians and dancers lived in large international cities, or "cosmopolitan pleasure centers," to quote singer Florence Mills, and they performed in the international space of the nightclub. Most of them retained a strong sense of identity as black Americans and invoked their international experiences to criticize narrow racial practices in the United States. Collectively, these men and women forged a practice of black American cosmopolitanism that was transmitted back to America by way of the black press. Examining their experiences serves to interrogate and expand the idea of cosmopolitan practice, and understanding their experiences as cosmopolitan explains why the "jazz migration" was an important political and cultural phenomenon for the larger black American community at the time.
American pianist, vocalist, songwriter, and activist Nina Simone (1933-2003) played a major role in the Civil Rights Movement and yet many historical accounts of the area have snubbed her. Bringing into clearer focus the intense and problematic commitment of Simone's identity as a musician to the protest identity of the Civil Rights Movement, this essay will examine Simone as an icon, her songs in historical context, and her audiences over the years. Her concerts, which continued until the last year of her life, make for a fascinating public record of her turbulent relationship with fans during and after the turbulent 1960s.