Valérie & ‘Valerie’ – both gone too soon

After having embedded the video of Valérie Čižmárová’s ‘Dávno nejsem hloupá’, yesterday I re-visited one of my social networking sites of long ago, specifically the ‘Spectropop’ Yahoo! Group, devoted to the sounds of the classic Girl Group era and of the composers/songwriters of the Brill Building, where I took the opportunity to post a link to the GOTGE blog, which I thought might be of interest, Valérie Čižmárová and Eva Kostolányiová both having recorded versions of Archies’ songs composed by those Brill Building writers, Jeff Barry and Andy Kim; the former with the cover of ‘Who’s Your Baby?’ (as ‘Důkaz mi dej’) and the latter under the same title as the original, ‘Jingle Jangle’.

GOTGE Readers should probably be aware of the fact that ‘Dávno nejsem hloupá’ is a cover of Lancelot Link and The Evolution Revolution’s ‘Sha-La Love You’. Recently, while looking into Lancelot Link and The Evolution Revolution – a novelty, children’s TV-based Pop Group of ‘chimpanzees’, the music being performed by session musicians – I encountered a site where the band was mentioned in the same breath as the likes of the Banana Splits, the aforementioned Archies and Josie and The Pussycats.

Some years ago I clearly recall visiting the ‘Spectropop’ tribute page to the life and work of Patrice Holloway, who provided the singing voice-over for the character in Josie and The Pussycats called ‘Valerie Brown’, based on the ‘Valerie Smith’ character of the strip cartoon which was the origin of the animated series – the acting voice-over coming from Barbara Pariot. I note, from my visit yesterday, that the tribute page is still up on the Web, so I re-visited that page and there is quite a remarkable parallel between the singing voice of ‘Valerie Brown’ and Valérie Čižmárová. Both were born in the early 1950s and died in the mid-2000s.

As ‘Valerie Brown’ and ‘Valerie Smith’ were pioneering African-American characters – the first of their kind, in fact – I am sure that Valinka would have been delighted to be (indirectly) associated with this, as one of the ‘Blackest’ voices beyond the Iron Curtain (maybe the ‘Blackest’). One has only to listen to ‘Důkaz mi dej’ to appreciate how ‘Black’ Valinka could be.

It can be seen from both the preceding and following links that there was quite a struggle against entrenched ideas to bring the ‘Valerie Brown’ character to the screens of U.S. children’s TV. I love the description, ‘Animated Trailblazing Sistah’!

Can it safely be said that a cartoon character like ‘Valerie Brown’ did more to advance the cause of African-Americans than countless protest marches? I know how powerful apparently disposable Pop Music can be in the context of GOTGE – blowing all manner of preconceptions about what life was like in the former Eastern Bloc, so that figures, in a way.

Oh…and finally…Josie and The Pussycats was also part of a British childhood – it being shown on UK TV, too – so it is something of a trip down memory lane for me. I had no idea at that time that, in my fifties, it would become associated in my mind with Czechoslovakia.

Maybe one should call ‘Valerie Brown’ and ‘Valerie Smith’ Valinka, in honour of this association!



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