Ada "Bricktop" Smith DuConge, Paris
Carl Van Vechten, American, 1880 - 1964
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During the 1930s, Pablo Picasso developed a strong interest in American jazz music and became a great admirer of Ada Smith (1894-1984), the charismatic African American singer and dancer who performed under the stage name of Bricktop. Smith moved to Paris in 1924 and, encouraged by Josephine Baker's spectacular success in La Revue Nègre, opened her own nightclub, Chez Bricktop, in 1929. Famous for her gravelly voice, outrageous personality, and penchant for brandy and cigars, Bricktop quickly earned a cult following in Paris. Picasso, who regularly saw her perform at her nightclub on the rue Pigalle, was among her legion of admirers.