In September 2010, an historic moment occurred when Flossie Turner Lewis visited the Belfer Audio Laboratory and Archive at Syracuse University at the Archive’s invitation and recorded some of her music and her observations about living through an entertainment era seldom chronicled. Her story of personal courage, tenacity, and strong values through eras of discrimination, broken families, and the itinerant lifestyle of a traveling black entertainment family during and after the Depression is both a time capsule of American entertainment and a testament to one woman’s triumph over adversity, poverty, and illiteracy.
Known by her stage name “Little Hot Mama,” she was the child of show business veterans Hot Papa and Dolly Turner, and began delighting audiences with songs and dances in 1935 at the age of two.
From the Deep South to Miami, Puerto Rico, and Los Angeles, her show business career as an entertainer on the carnival and chitlin circuits, in speakeasies and minstrel shows, and in the swank nightclubs of Miami’s Overtown lasted for more than 40 years.
Flossie’s autobiography, LITTLE HOT MAMA, co-authored by Paula Meseroll, preserves an important period in the evolution of American black entertainment during the 20th century and was published by Stay Thirsty Press as an original Amazon Kindle eBook in July 2010.
Header Photo: Flossie Turner Lewis, Polka Dot Club Publicity Photo, Los Angeles, Circa 1960's