Now age 85, Lottie The Body Graves maintains a loving home with her current husband. She invited me to sit at the kitchen table. Spread out were PR photo images. “Pick out what you like and I will autograph them”. In the background her framed history was hanging on the walls. She is preparing a book on her life.
Lottie‘s parents were from Barbados. She was born in 1930 in South Carolina. At age one her parents settled in Syracuse, NY. She grew up in a home vibrating with Afro-Cuban dance form and music. She studied classical dance and easily incorporated the influences from home into a highly skill professional dancer.
In 1947 she graduated from high school and moved to New York City and started her career in show business with the Alan White Dancers and various theatre groups. “I was always the principal – never in the chorus!”
For 16 years Lottie was booked in to Burlesque clubs nationally. Her lavish costumes, and skilled dancing of the Socca, Chi-Chi, Calypso and Cuban styles made her act unique.
During that time she toured with the BB King Review and worked with a lot of great talents.
She was married to Harlem Globetrotters talent, Goose Tatum for six years. “Well, he was quite a bit older. I still performed, and traveled with the team to Cuba. I met Castro.”
Later she shook hands with “the handsomest man I had ever met. Oscar Graves. He was a high end clothing salesman from Detroit. We married and that’s how I got to Detroit. His noted brother Robert Graves was good looking too”.
Over the years she has received many honors, proudly displayed on the hall walls.
We stepped out onto her patio where she cares for her family of flowers. “You know I was the host at the 20 Grand Lounge in Detroit, where I introduced all the Motown acts. Such lovely people. Later I worked at BoMac’s Bar where the best jazz in town could be heard.
“I am now retired. My hips just don’t shimmy like they used to”.
Note: www.coffeerhetoric.com for more Lottie information.