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Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
The main protagonist of Rhythm for Sale, Leonard Harper, is a talented African-American born in an era of discrimination and of a blossoming entertainment industry to which he was drawn. He was the son of a poor singer from Birmingham, Alabama. He learned the art of soft shoe dancing, a type of tap dancing popular during those years. In almost no time, he had become a master of his craft, going on his own at the age of 16 in New York, even working with greats such as Louis Armstrong. Despite white people ripping him and other African-American counterparts of their work and earnings, he was able to do many performances and shows and, through his hard work, was also able to stage the much-lauded African-American Broadway show Hot Chocolates in 1929. Rhythm For Sale, written by his grandson, Grant Harper Reid is his story.
Grant Harper Reid’s debut book is a fascinating look at the dazzling Harlem Renaissance that was the backdrop to the life of his grandfather, Leonard Harper, a known figure among history buffs and dance and theater enthusiasts. Leonard Harper was not only a gifted performer, he also contributed much to the Harlem Renaissance as a choreographer and stage director so that even to this day others look up to him and his works. Those wanting to learn more of this wonderful era of dance and theater history will realize they have a marvelous find in Rhythm for Sale. The author's writing style is highly descriptive and entertaining and his book not only tells of his grandfather's exploits as a performer – we also get to see his personal life, rife with affairs as well as exciting characters from gangsters to burlesque dancers in the nightclubs. This is a book every performer should read.