AllHawkesburyLibrary / Museum

Author Talk: Historian Deirdre O’Connell

Author Talk Deirdre O'Connell

Coinciding with the NSW Women’s Week and History Month, mark your diaries for an afternoon Author Talk with historian Deirdre O’Connell as she will discuss her book at the Hawkesbury Regional Museum on Sunday, 10 March 2024.

From 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM, the Blue-Mountains-based author will talk more about her book Harlem Nights: The Secret History of Australia’s Jazz Age (2021)and the story of jazz band Sonny Clay’s Colored Idea, the 1920s, race, modernism, and jazz in Australia.

“American movies, music, and dance brought together what racial lines kept apart. African American jazz represented the type of modernism that cosmopolitan Australians craved – and the champions of White Australia feared,” the synopsis indicated.

“Enter the jazz band Sonny Clay’s Colored Idea. Snuck in under the wire by an astute promoter, the Harlem-style revue broke from the usual blackface minstrel fare, delivering sophisticated, liberating rhythms.”

“The story of their Australian tour is a tale of conspiracy — a secret plan to kick out and keep out ‘undesirable’ expressions of modernism, music, and race, and protect wayward women from themselves.”


Harlem Nights was shortlisted for the 2022 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards for Australian History. She is also the author of The Ballad of Blind Tom, Slave Pianist (2009).

The tickets are free, with light refreshments included. Interested attendees can make their bookings online via Eventbrite: Author Talk – Celebrate NSW Women’s Week and History Month.

Dr Deirdre O’Connell is a historian, lecturer, and author of The Ballad of Blind Tom and The World of Crickett Smith (forthcoming). She has a background in environmental journalism and music documentary production and lives in Gundungurra and Darug Country in the Blue Mountains of NSW, Australia.

The Hawkesbury Regional Museum is located at 8 Baker Street in Windsor.


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