About the author:
Caseen Gaines is an author, director, educator, and popular culture historian.
His work has received praise from media outlets around the world including NPR (“impressively exhaustive . . . enthusiastic and thorough”), The Hollywood Reporter (“revealing”), Esquire (“fascinating”), and Publishers Weekly (“enthusiastically comprehensive”). His “muscular reporting” has been celebrated by several New York Times bestselling authors, including Michael Davis and Brian Jay Jones, who have found his work to be “deeply researched and engagingly written.”
His forthcoming book, Footnotes: The Black Artists Who Rewrote the Rules of the Great White Way, will be published in May 2021 by Sourcebooks.
Beyond his books, he has been published at Vanity Fair, io9, and New York Magazine — and has written original features for Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club, and Decider. He has also worked as a consultant and ghostwriter on several narrative nonfiction projects.
He holds a Master’s Degree from Rutgers University in American Studies, where he focused on racial representations in popular culture, and, in addition to writing, is co-Artistic Director of a nonprofit theater company he cofounded in 2005 and a high school English teacher in New Jersey, where he has taught for fourteen years.
Footnotes by Caseen Gaines
For readers of Hidden Figures and Something Wonderful, Footnotes is the story of New York in the roaring twenties and the very first Broadway show with an all-black cast and creative team to succeed – and the indelible mark on our popular culture.
These pioneering performer and the creators (composer Eubie Blake and lyricist Noble Sissle) sowed the seeds of the Harlem jazz scene and paved the way for people of color on stage and screen with West Side Story, Black Panther, and of course, Hamilton. Importantly, this book illuminates the ways in which black people in America have attained success amidst a culture actively whitewashing, controlling, or completely preventing their stories from being told.
“Shuffle Along was the first of its kind when the piece arrived on Broadway. This musical introduced Black excellence to the Great White Way. Broadway was forever changed and we, who stand on the shoulders of our brilliant ancestors, are charged with the very often elusive task of carrying that torch into our present. I am humbled to have been part of the short-lived 2016 historical telling of how far we’ve come, starring as Aubrey Lyles in Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed—and happy that Footnotes further secures his place in history.”
—Billy Porter, Tony and Emmy Award-winning actor
“Think of history as a jigsaw puzzle. Caseen Gaines has unearthed one of those coveted, seemingly unremarkable pieces that suddenly turns a jumble of colors into a picture. In taking us through the story of Shuffle Along, Gaines brings the years surrounding the First World War to life, making a convincing case that the Roaring Twenties would have roared less loudly if it hadn’t been for this once-celebrated, now-forgotten show. A story of humans at once talented, flawed, courageous, blinkered, and visionary, Footnotes casts a valuable light on the role African Americans have played—and continue to play—in stage history.”
—Glen Berger, Emmy Award-winner and author of Song of Spider-Man: The Inside Story of the Most Controversial Musical in Broadway History
“What a gift! Footnotes is beautifully written, with Caseen Gaines telling a story that is absolutely vital to both the past and future of the theater.”
— Rachel Chavkin, Tony Award-winning director of Hadestown
“Florence Mills, Gertrude Saunders, Lottie Gee, Josephine Baker—these are just a few of the women’s shoulders on which I stand. Before joining George C. Wolfe’s Black Broadway “Justice League” in Shuffle Along, or, the Making of the Musical Sensation of 1921 and All That Followed, I knew nothing of Shuffle Along, its creators, nor the scope of the immaculate talent that ascended from its company. Shuffle Along will always be another example of rich history within the Black community, more specifically the Black artistic community, that is so often lost, erased, and forgotten. Learning about this show and performing in the 2016 Broadway production was life changing in more ways than one. More importantly, it affirmed the responsibility to not only discover the treasures, work, and history of our ancestors, but to also shed light on such treasures and remind the world of the excellence and greatness of our people. For there is no ‘we’ without ‘them.’”
—Adrienne Warren, Tony Award nominee
“Footnotes is a remarkable, wonderful book. Caseen Gaines, a top-notch researcher and first-rate storyteller, vividly brings a colorful era to life, telling an important story that deserves to be better known. It's a major contribution to culture and history, all told with Gaines's usual empathy and wit.”
—Brian Jay Jones, New York Times bestselling author of Jim Henson: The Biography
“With meticulous research and smooth storytelling, Caseen Gaines significantly deepens our understanding of one of the key cultural events that launched the Harlem Renaissance. Footnotes reminds us of the many talented, but forgotten, Black actors and musicians whose innovative productions helped shape our shared culture and history.”
—A’Lelia Bundles, New York Times bestselling author of On Her Own Ground: The Life and Times of Madam C.J. Walker