Joe Louis’ Wife Launches Singing Career, Segregation Ends It

The wife of legendary boxer Joe Louis launched her singing career today (November 13, 1943).

Marva Trotter Louis a.k.a. Mrs. Joe Louis, signed a deal with the proprietor of a black owned beer distributor in Chicago.

Bill Graham signed on to act as Mrs. Louis’ personal manager, as she launched a singing career for nightclubs and vaudeville theaters.

Mrs. Louis did a number of club dates at “Colored Only” venues, throughout the South.

Joe Louis met his future wife in December 1934, when she was a 19-year-old secretary at the Chicago Defender, a black-owned newspaper.

According to Joe Louis, his wife’s singing career was cut short, due to the racism of the times.

“She kept at it for a good while, but her manager told her she needed more experience to build up her voice and booked her on a bunch of one night stands through the south,” Joe Louis recalled. “Marva got herself a chauffeur and set out to conquer the world. But after three months on the road, having to go to the back door of restaurants to get her food eating and sleeping in the car, she gave up. I was glad about that. It’s degrading for a woman who’s had the best to be told, ‘go around the back.'”

Joe Louis’ marriage was frequently turbulent, in part because of the boxer’s infatuation/love affair with singer Lena Horne.

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