Audio dramas featuring Black Women Jazz Artists

Vanitas Arts are proud to announce their series of audio dramas, 'Persons of Interest', two of which feature female jazz artists Gladys Bentley and Josephine Baker, to coincide with this year's Black History Month 2023 celebrations. 

The audio dramas reimagine a moment in the lives of these two prominent female jazz artists who influenced the political and artistic landscape over the decades: Gladys Bentley and Josephine Baker, both influential Black women in the jazz scene who championed, and continue to influence the rights of freedom and expression. Key qualities that reflect this year’s Black History Month’s theme of sisterhood.


Three of the four audio dramas in the series are currently available to listen FREE online on the Vanitas Arts website.  The final episode is scheduled for release at the end of October 2023.

The Persons of Interest audio drama series is produced by Vanitas Arts, a digital storytelling company based in Yorkshire. Vanitas Arts is led by producer writers Amanda Huxtable and Shirley Harris. Episodes in the series reimagine key moments in the lives of high achieving, underrepresented Black Jazz Artists spanning 1920’s – 1950’s.

Episode 1 – You’re Somethin’ Else Gladys’, written by Anita Franklin, reimagines the story of Drag King and highest earning entertainer in 1930’s Harlem Renaissance, Gladys Bentley.

Audio drama 2 ‘The Chatelaine’, written by Amanda Huxtable and Shirley Harris reimagines the time when Josephine Baker provided refuge for the persecuted in WW2 France after the fall of Paris.

Audio drama 3 and latest release – ‘The Night the Music Died’, written by Shirley Harris, tells a reimagined story of Ken`Snakehips’ Johnson, renowned dancer, Band leader of the West Indian Dance Orchestra  and 1940’s BBC Broadcaster who encounters a Blitz torn London to give his final performance at The Café de Paris.

Amanda Huxtable, Director and Producer at Vanitas Arts said: “From the moment you hear his name ‘Ken ‘Snakehips’ Johnson’, your interest and imagination sparks., Like the extraordinary, reimagined lives before him.  In our other two episodes featuring the stories about Gladys Bentley and Josephine Baker, we share a story rarely told.

“‘Ken ‘Snakehips’ Johnson lived his life with full joy and abandon. We recognise his dedication to his music, his audience and having fun, despite the growing dangers and concerns he must have faced in a war torn London Blitz.  We are excited for more people to know about Ken Johnson, BBC Broadcaster of the day and trailblazer by night. He who shone so brightly left a legacy for us all to enjoy. It’s a privilege to bring these characters to life and into their homes as we celebrate BHM in 2023”

The Persons of Interest project has been made possible with funding from Arts Council England.