Kenneth Kamal Scott was a contender during the racism-fueled decades when Broadway producers spat “We’re not hiring any Negroes” as they slammed the back stage doors, when opera companies deemed the colored man incapable of singing classical music, and the ballet masters were convinced that the African body would never be suited for any dance form beyond primitive, tap and modern dance. Besides, ballet already had Arthur Mitchell--one Negro at a time, please. But Scott never threw in the towel.
SLIDIN’ ON A RAINBOW: Claiming My Pot of Gold in Good Times and Bad is Scott’s autobiography of his remarkable 65 year career. Born into a show business dynasty, the boy soprano “Little Kenny Scott” who tied with another boy on “The Original Amateur Hour” was Boston’s golden child. By the time he was ten he was a featured player on Broadway with Cyril Ritchard and from that point forward Scott sang and danced his way around the world. Rejected by the American Ballet Theatre company, ironically Scott danced alongside Mr. Mitchell, Rudolph Nureyev, and Erik Bruhn daily in the less discriminatory ABT classes. Pearl Bailey tried to break his spirit and Sammy Davis, Jr. actually broke his body.
Scott hung on the ropes while being pummeled by cancer, depression, drug addiction, bearing witness to the premature deaths of his peers, and his own 28 year old HIV diagnosis which he has survived with minimal medical/chemical intervention, his healing due to his refreshingly effervescent personality and optimistic attitude. An openly gay Black man living a “serially monogamous” life, Scott is the father of two grown sons (famed producer and hip-hop/jazz fusion pioneer Jonathan “Dred Scott”) from his first marriage and has been married to his current wife for two years following a ten year engagement.
Today Scott enjoys an enviable vocal career and regularly performs voice in concert and cabaret settings thanks to his dedication to the Bel Canto singing technique which enhances and supports the voice as the singer ages, and he is a beloved and renowned faculty member at New York’s Mannes College and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music.
Scott owns a collection of thousands of photographs and reviews documenting his and his family’s and co-entertainers’ careers. His insider anecdotes depict the conflicted stories of mid-20th Century American Black performers. I don’t know of any recently published personal history which has united in one life so much Black theatre, dance, song, and gay history with all the relevant (and in many cases forgotten) performers and personalities.
SLIDIN’ ON A RAINBOW is ghostwritten by "Alter Ego" who has worked in the entertainment industry for many years, twenty of which were assisting and writing for the Tony award winning director, dancer, and painter Geoffrey Holder. "Alter Ego" is an award winning short story writer, screenwriter, and author who is scheduled to teach screenwriting in fall 2010.
Kenneth Kamal Scott remains a contender, still SLIDIN’ ON A RAINBOW.
copyright 2010 Jacqueline Brown