Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas

Author: Maya Angelouwiki by: (no)

Maya Angelou was born in St. Louis Missouri,
April 4, 1928, and her real name is Marguerite
Ann Johnson. She is widley known for "America's
most visible black female autobiographer" because
of all that she has accomplished. Her occupations
dancer, film producer, televsion
producer, playwright, film director, author, actress,
and she was very successful in all. During the Civil
Rights Movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. requested
that Angelou serve as Northern Coordinator for the
Southern Christian Leadership Conference; she did.
Overall Maya Angelou has been honored over 50
honorary degrees, and given three Grammys
for her spoken world albums.
(Maya Angelou)
(Official Website)


Angelou is also known for her six autobiographies
which include:I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,
Gather Together in My Name
Singin’ and Swingin’
and Getting’ Merry Like Christmas
, The Heart of a
, All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes,
and A Song Flung Up to Heaven. The book,
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou’s
first book, was nominated for a National Book
Award. Angelou, wanting to be the best mother
for her child while being a good performer during her
early career, was inspired to write her third
autobiography, Singin’ and Swingin’ and Getting’
Merry Like Christmas
(Maya Angelou)(Official Website)


(Still I Rise)


Southern Christian Leadership Conference

Autobiography nominated for a National Book Award

"I took the job, but kept Louise under constant
surveillance. None of her actions went unheeded,
no conversation unrecorded. The question was not
if she would divulge her racism but when and how
the revelation would occur. For a few months I
was a character in an living thriller plot.
I listened to her intonations and trailed her
glances." (11)

When Maya got offered a job at the record store, she didn't know how to react. Once talking to her best friend, Ivonne, she decided she needed the job for herself and son. And this excerpt shows how dependent she was on this job, and she made sure this wasn't a blow off or joke. I feel as though Louise really liked Maya and wanted to give her the best care she could. She knew Maya really liked music so she offered the job. It shows how caring Lousie was to any person in need.
"The next day was always spent at the park,
the zoo, the San Franciso Museum of Art, a cartoon
movie house or any cheap of free place of entertainment.
Then, on our second evening he would fight sleep like
an old person fighting death. By morning, not quite
awake, he would jerk and make hurtful noises like a
wounded animal. I would still my heart and wake him.
When he was dressed, we headed back to the sitter's
house. He would begin to cry a few blocks from our
destination. My own tears stayed in check until his
screams stabbed from behind the closed doors
and stuck like spearheads in my heart." (13)

(Smiling son with mother)
This excerpt gives an explanation that before Maya Angelou found her living in singing and being an actress, she had an awesome relationship with her son. They never wanted to be apart, but she knew she had to leave him to earn a living for the two of themselves--just as any young mother would want for her child. This excerpt shows how both Clyde's and Maya's emotions were toward one another and how close they were at this point and time.
"...if white people could drink wine like Kool-aid, then
there was no reason on God's green earth I could not
do the same. The second glass went down smoother
than the first and the third more swiftly then the
second. Alone, seated in a strange house filled with
strangers, I felt as if I were in dangerous waters,
swimming badly and out of my depth. I was plankton
in an ocean of whales. The image was so good I
toasted it with another glass of wine. ... My mother's
snappy-fingered, head-tossing elegance would have
put every person in the room to shame. If she walked
in the house uninvited, even unexpected, in seconds
she would have the party clustered around her, filling
her glass, listening to her stories and currying for one
of her brilliant smiles." (80-81)
This excerpt shows that during Maya Angelou's time away from her family and close friends, she couldn't really make friends in the beginning. Sure she was invited to parties, but she knew no one there and wasn't really into introuducing herself to others. When drinking her wine, she thinks of her mother, and to me it seems like she wishes she had the courage to be like her mother and be outgoing and the life of the party. Her mother had a wonderful smile that brought in a party itself, and Maya wishes she was one like her.
"When i called Ivonne she told me to stop crying, that
Clyde had no father, so it was up to me to make a place
for both of us, and that that was what I was doing. She
said she would go over to the house as usual and see
him and take him out. After all, he was not with strangers
but with his grandmother--why did I worry? The
past revisited. My mother had left me with my
grandmother for years and I knew the pain of
parting. ... But I had to work and I would be good.
I would make it up to my soon and one day would take
him to all the places I was going to see." (145)

(Praising Maya)

This quote shows how Maya Angelou always longed for her son while she was gone away from home. She knew her mother had done this to her when she was little, and she didnt want Clyde to feel unwanted. She thought as any mother would think and said to herself that she would be the best mother once returning. Also he was with her mother, so she needed to concentrate on her career and making a living for Clyde and herself.
"I prepared for bed after examining each object in
the small bedroom and bath next door. Touching
the washstand, the walls and the fine cotton
curtains assured me that I was indeed out of the
United States. I slept a fitful sleep, longing for
my son and feeling nervous because the
next evening I would debut in the role of Ruby." (165)
(Teatro la Fenice)

One of her last nights in Europe, and the night before her big debut, Maya thought of her son. She remembered him alot, and kept wanting to see him. But she knew she had to do her performance and that that was her main focus so that is why she was very nervous. Knowing that this was her big performance, she wanted her son because that is who brings her happiness and relaxation.
"Clyde's skin flaked with scales and his bedclothes had to be changed each day in an attempt to prevent new contagion. I had ruined my beautiful son by neglect, and neither of us would ever forgive me. It was time to commit suicide, to put an end to accusations and guilt. And did I dare die alone? What would happen to my son? If my temporary absence in Europe caused such devastation to his mind and body, what would become of him if I was gone forever? I brought him into this world and I was responsible for his life. So must the thoughts wind around the minds of insane parents who kill their children and then themselves." (258-259)
(Smiling son with mother)

Once returning home from Europe, Maya Angelou realized how important her son meant to her. She was his mother, so she was responsible for his life and how it was. She felt as though she had been an awful mother during her time away in Europe. She finally understood how bad she had hurt Clyde, and to me it seems as though she wishes she could have taken it all back, even though she knew her career gave Maya her living.

After reading the book, Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas, a few things were discovered about American History the real world today. Maya Angelou's autobiography showed that young mothers today are struggling to be the type of mother they had and they want their children to have. Also it shows that mothers try to have a decent job and make good money for her new family. She was a young mother 50 years ago, and back during her time and the Civil Rights Movement, being a young mother meant a lot more than it does now. Maya had to fight for her life with no help; she was on her own. Today's society there are young mothers who can ask for help and get it, but there are also some that are like Maya Angelou and have to live for themselves. She was a good role model. The young mothers' jobs and children keep the mothers going. One have got to believe in God, and He will also help through the hard times. This is an everyday conflict for young mothers, and Angelou was one who became inspired to write about it.

“3records” 23 Nov. 2008
“Academy of Achievement” 25 Nov. 2008

14 Nov. 2008
Angelou, Maya . Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas. New York: Random House, 1976.
14 Nov. 2008
"Maya Angelou"
23 Nov. 2008

“Official Website on Maya Angelou” 25 Nov. 2008

Praising Maya” 26 Nov. 2008
“Smiling son with mother” 26 Nov. 2008
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"Still I Rise"
23 Nov. 2008
“Teatro la Fenice”
23 Nov. 2008
“Wine-glass-grapes” 24 Nov. 2008