Ida Cox

Ida Cox


ChickenBones: A Journal

for  Literary & Artistic African-American  Themes



I’m a one hour mama / So no one minute papa / Ain’t the kind of man for me Set your alarm clock papa / One hour, that’s proper / Then love me like I like to be



Ida Cox

Uncrowned Queen of the Blues

Ida Prather, born February 25, 1896 in Toccoa, Georgia,  left home at fourteen to work as a comedian and singer in Vaudeville and in the Tent Shows and became one of the most popular blues singers of the 1920s. In  June 1923 Cox signed with Paramount Records and made her recording debut with Lovie Austin (piano) and stayed with Paramount until 1929. During this period she recorded 78 sides. 

She made about a hundred recordings between 1923 and 1940 with some of the best jazz musicians accompanying her, such as Johnny Dodds, Buster Bailey, Charlie Green, Tommy Ladnier, Kid Ory, James P. Johnson, Lester Young.

She also wrote blues songs, which were recorded by others such as Bessie Smith (e.g., “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out”). Paramount billed her as the “Uncrowned Queen of the Blues.” Cox, like Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey, symbolized the liberated spirit of blues women.In her particular way, Ida Cox was a feminist. The songs she wrote and performed targeted  the women in her audience. “Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues” is a song that alludes to sexual freedom. “Pink Slip Blues” dealt with the woes of unemployment. “Last Mile Blues” is a song about capital punishment.

A very stylish woman, Cox possessed a lavish wardrobe.  Very much in control of her career, she was a shrewd business woman: hired all of her own musicians, produced her own stage shows, and managed her own touring company, called Raising Cain.

By the 1930s people’s taste in music changed and Ida Cox, like other Classic Blues artists, lost popularity. Yet she continued to perform and caught a break in 1939 when hired by producer John Hammond to perform at Carnegie Hall in 1939 and sang in Hammond’s “From Spirituals to Swing” concert, which led to some new recordings in the 1940s. Cox suffered a stroke in 1944 and was forced into retirement. In 1961 she was coaxed out of retirement to record one final session.

In 1945 she suffered a stroke when singing in a club in Buffalo, NY. She then retired in Knoxville, Tennessee although she did record some songs in 1961. She died in 1967 from cancer.

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One Hour Mama

By Ida Cox

I’ve always heard that haste makes waste So I believe in takin’ my time The highest mountain can’t be raced It’s something you must slowly climb I want a slow and easy man He needn’t ever take the lead Cause I work on that long-time plan And I ain’t a-lookin’ for no speed I’m a one hour mama So no one minute papa Ain’t the kind of man for me Set your alarm clock papa One hour, that’s proper Then love me like I like to be I don’t want no lame excuses ‘Bout my lovin’ bein’ so good That you couldn’t wait no longer Now I hope I’m understood I’m a one hour mama So no one minute papa Ain’t the kind of man for me I can’t stand no greenhorn lover Like a rookie goin’ to war With a load of big artillery But don’t know what it’s for He’s got to bring me a reference With a great long pedigree And must prove he’s got endurance Or he don’t mean that to me I don’t like no crowin’ rooster What just kicks a lick or two Action is the only booster Of just what my man can do I don’t want no imitation My requirements ain’t no joke Cause I’ve got pure indignation For a guy what’s lost his stroke I’m a one hour mama So no one minute papa Ain’t the kind of man for me Set your alarm clock papa One hour, that’s proper Then love me like I like to be I may want love for one hour Then decide to make it two Takes an hour before I get started Maybe three ‘fore I’m through I’m a one hour mama So no one minute papa Ain’t the kind of man for me

from a session recorded by Ida Cox and her All Star Band in New York on 31 October 1939. Her All Stars included Hot Lips Page on trumpet and James P. Johnson at the piano. 

posted 19 November 2005

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Ida Cox—Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues

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Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues                                        

                                            By Ida Cox

I hear these women raving ’bout their monkey men About their trifling husbands and their no good friends These poor women sit around all day and moan Wondering why their wandering papa’s don’t come home But wild women don’t worry, wild women don’t have no blues Now when you’ve got a man, don’t never be on the square ‘Cause if you do he’ll have a woman everywhere I never was known to treat no one man right I keep ’em working hard both day and night ‘Cause wild women don’t worry, wild women don’t have their blues I’ve got a disposition and a way of my own When my man starts kicking I let him find another home I get full of good liquor, walk the streets all night Go home and put my man out if he don’t act right Wild women don’t worry, wild women don’t have their blues You never get nothing by being an angel child You better change your ways and get real wild I wanna tell you something, I wouldn’t tell you a lie Wild women are the only kind that ever get by wild women don’t worry, wild women don’t have their blues.

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Ida Cox with her All-Star Band

This is from Collector’s Classics LP CC56, from a session recorded by Ida Cox and her All Star Band in New York on 31 October 1939. Her All Stars included Hot Lips Page on trumpet and James P. Johnson at the piano.

Birth name: Ida Prather Born, 25 February 1896, Toccoa, Habersham County, Georgia, United States. Died 10 November 1967 (aged 71) Genres Jazz, Blues Instruments Vocalist.

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper’s wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man’s turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners’ plans to give him a “necktie party” (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by “the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn’t operate in his own home town.” Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson’s magnificent, extensively researched study of the “great migration,” the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an “uncertain existence” in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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By Marilyn Nelson; Illustrated by Philippe Lardy

This memorial to the lynched teen is in the Homeric tradition of poet-as-historian. It is a heroic crown of sonnets in Petrarchan rhyme scheme and, as such, is quite formal not only in form but in language. There are 15 poems in the cycle, the last line of one being the first line of the next, and each of the first lines makes up the entirety of the 15th. This chosen formality brings distance and reflection to readers, but also calls attention to the horrifically ugly events. The language is highly figurative in one sonnet, cruelly graphic in the next. The illustrations echo the representative nature of the poetry, using images from nature and taking advantage of the emotional quality of color. There is an introduction by the author, a page about Emmett Till, and literary and poetical footnotes to the sonnets. The artist also gives detailed reasoning behind his choices. This underpinning information makes this a full experience, eminently teachable from several aspects, including historical and literary—School Library Journal

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

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