Let’s travel back in time to the mesmerizing world of Esther Lee Jones, fondly known as “Baby Esther.” Born and raised in the heart of Illinois, Baby Esther was a child entertainer extraordinaire who captured the hearts of audiences with her unique talents and infectious charm.
Esther’s journey into the world of entertainment began under the loving guidance of her parents, Gertrude and William Jones. From an early age, it was evident that Esther possessed extraordinary talents. She was not just a performer; she was a trained scat singer, dancer, and acrobat, a true triple threat.
However, what set Baby Esther apart was her ability to infuse her performances with a delightful blend of seriousness and childish mischief. It was this playful spirit that would make her a sensation in the years to come.
Baby Esther’s act was a delightful mix of dance, facial expressions, and the famous interpolation of nonsensical phrases like “Boo-Boo-Boo,” “Wha-Da-Da,” and “Doo-Doo-Doo.” Her performances left audiences in stitches, a testament to her ability to combine talent with humor.
In the vibrant atmosphere of 1920s Harlem, Baby Esther found her home. She became a regular performer at nightclubs not only in Harlem but also across the United States. Her infectious energy and playful antics made her an instant hit wherever she went.
Baby Esther’s fame transcended borders. In 1929, between the ages of seven and ten, she embarked on a European tour that would make her an international celebrity. An article in “The Chicago Defender” proudly proclaimed her as the highest-paid child artist in the world. Her tour delighted audiences, including royalty, across the continent.
During her European adventure, Baby Esther had the honor of performing for various royal families. Her talents dazzled not only the common folk but also the nobility and high society, cementing her status as a global sensation.
In the artistic haven of Paris, Baby Esther’s talents shone even brighter. She was often compared to the iconic Josephine Baker, earning her the nickname of the “Miniature Josephine Baker.” In the Moulin Rouge, she left audiences in awe with her performances that combined elegance and youthful exuberance.
Baby Esther’s journey was not without its challenges. In Stockholm, Sweden, during her tour, she faced discrimination when refused service at an American restaurant run by Branda Tomton, an American immigrant. This incident sparked outrage, not only among the Swedish dignitaries but also officials across the country.
They vehemently opposed the discrimination Baby Esther faced, condemning it as an example of American “Jim Crowism” reaching foreign shores. The restaurant, unable to withstand the backlash, was forced to close its doors.
Esther Jones continued her tour across the Americas and around the world. Her performances were a delightful spectacle, filled with singing, dancing, splits, and unbridled enthusiasm. Audiences couldn’t get enough of her infectious charm, often describing her as “too cute for words.”
Esther “Baby Esther” Jones remains an enduring symbol of joy and talent. Her ability to bring laughter and happiness to audiences of all ages, backgrounds, and nationalities is a testament to the power of entertainment.
As we remember the enchanting world of Baby Esther, we celebrate not only her talent but also her resilience in the face of adversity. She broke down barriers, captivated hearts, and left a legacy that reminds us of the sheer magic of live performance. Baby Esther will forever be remembered as a child prodigy who brought laughter and joy to the world.