Evelyn Dove

Born January 1902, London – died March 1987


Unlike many of the practitioners in the book, Dove is thankfully more widely known, and much more has been written about her. So this post will act more as a starting point for research into her extraordinary life and work as a Black British performer. Her performance in the 1948 musical Calypso is featured in An Inconvenient Black History of British Musical Theatre 1900-1950 along with a more general overview of her activities.

Dove performed extensively in the UK, right across the country, and there are likely to be theatre programmes that feature her in various local archives. She also performed in Ireland. In 1958, she performed in the Langston Hughes musical Simply Heavenly which opened at the Adelphi theatre in the West End.


British Newspaper Archive

The BBC’s Programme Index (previously Genome, which digitised and archived the Radio Times) has extensive coverage of Dove’s many television and radio images. She performed alongside Elizabeth Welch and the celebrated pianist Winifred Atwell. She was also part of the Serenade in Sepia series with Edric Connor.

Getty has a non-embeddable image of Dove performing in Germany.

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Cover of Stephen Bourne's book on Evelyn Dove

Bourne, S. 2017, ‘The Untold Story Of Britain’s First Black Female Superstar’, in The Voice, 30th March, https://archive.voice-online.co.uk/article/untold-story-britain%E2%80%99s-first-black-female-superstar

Bourne, S. (2001) Black in the British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television

Bourne, S. (2016) Evelyn Dove: Britain’s Black Cabaret Queen, Jacaranda Books

~Exhibition notes from the National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit: Devotional

Rye, Howard. 2010. “SOUTHERN SYNCOPATED ORCHESTRA: THE ROSTER.” Black Music Research Journal 30 (1) (Spring): 19-70.

Black music in the Harlem Renaissance : a collection of essays

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Dove singing ‘Couldn’t hear nobody pray’