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Evelyn Dove: Battersea's Melodic Pioneer

“Celebrating #BlackHistoryMonth with a tribute to a trailblazing songstress! Dive into our latest article as we honor Battersea's own Evelyn Dove and her remarkable legacy in music. From pioneering jazz to becoming the first woman of African heritage on BBC Radio, discover her incredible journey.”

Black Wall St. MediaContributor
Evelyn Dove: Battersea's Melodic Pioneer

In the realm of life’s serendipitous moments, there are those encounters that leave an indelible mark on our journey. Such was the case on a recent train ride, as I found myself engrossed in the pages of “Black Poppies” by Steven Bourne, a book that masterfully unveils the often obscured history of Black soldiers in World War I—a narrative that intertwines deeply with British history itself.

As I was immersed in this tale of valor, sacrifice, and resilience, my journey took an unexpected turn. By what seemed like pure fate, a fellow passenger named Philip Dove took the seat beside me. What began as an ordinary train ride transformed into a remarkable connection, transcending the boundaries of fleeting interactions that often typify commuter life.

Philip Dove

Philip Dove

In the course of our conversation, Philip shared an astonishing revelation: his family, the Doves, were not mere spectators in this historical tapestry but featured characters within its pages. The serendipity of this moment united our stories in a most unexpected way.

As we exchanged stories and our shared connection to “Black Poppies,” the train’s rhythmic clatter became a backdrop to the extraordinary history contained within those pages. Our encounter became a reminder of the profound connections that can be born from chance meetings. It’s a testament to the way in which literature and history can bridge the gaps between generations, backgrounds, and experiences.

The shared appreciation for “Black Poppies” not only brought Philip Dove and me together but also reminded us of the enduring importance of stories that transcend time, space, and cultural boundaries. This is the magic of literature—the power to unite individuals in a shared journey through the tapestry of human experience.

In closing, I extend my heartfelt gratitude to Philip Dove for our unexpected yet transformative encounter and for sharing the remarkable history of the Dove family. I also extend a profound thank you to Steven Bourne, whose book, in a serendipitous twist, brought two distant strangers together.

“Black Poppies” is not just a book; it is a vital piece of British history, a reminder that stories of courage, sacrifice, and resilience belong to all of us, regardless of the color of our skin. It’s a history that we should cherish, protect, and, perhaps most importantly, share, ensuring that it finds its place in every school across our country.

Learn more about the Dove Family in this remarkable and eye opening book by the Author Steven Bourne.

Learn more about the Dove Family in this remarkable and eye opening book by the Author Steven Bourne.

Battersea’s Trailblazing Songstress, Evelyn Dove, Honored with Blue Plaque:

Wandsworth, London, UK – In commemoration of Black History Month, the vibrant London borough of Wandsworth has unveiled a coveted blue plaque honoring the illustrious Evelyn Dove, a pioneer in the world of music and performance.

This milestone moment took place on September 29, 2023, with the plaque adorning the former Battersea residence of the trailblazing singer, signifying her remarkable contribution to the cultural tapestry of the UK.

Francis Dove Credit: The Dove Family

Evelyn’s father, Francis Dove, was a barrister from Sierra Leone, and her mother, Augusta Dove (nee Winchester) was British. It not known how Evelyn’s parent’s met, but her father was admitted into the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn in 1888, and enrolled as a Barrister of the Supreme Court in 1897. He and Augusta married in 1896.
Credit: The Dove Family

Evelyn Dove’s legacy was nothing short of groundbreaking. Born in 1902 to Francis Dove, a London-based barrister hailing from Sierra Leone, and his British wife Augusta, her early years were marked by a remarkable blend of heritage and culture.

Evelyn's father ran his practice in Accra, while Augusta brought Evelyn and Frank up in Britain. In the 1911 Census, Evelyn and her mother are living at 25a Barnard Road:

Evelyn’s father ran his practice in Accra, while Augusta brought Evelyn and Frank up in Britain. In the 1911 Census, Evelyn and her mother are living at 25a Barnard Road:

The family where there for a relatively short time – by the time the 1912-1913 street directory is published, they have moved on

The family where there for a relatively short time – by the time the 1912-1913 street directory is published, they have moved on

Her academic journey commenced at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music, where she meticulously honed her talents in music and singing.

After completing her studies in 1919, Evelyn’s aspirations initially leaned towards a career in opera or the concert hall circuit. However, she found herself irresistibly drawn to the enchanting worlds of jazz and cabaret.

By 1921, according to the Census records of that year, she was performing with the Southern Syncopated Orchestra, a pioneering ensemble that comprised musicians from the Caribbean, West Africa, and the United States.

Their legacy was instrumental in introducing jazz to the UK and Europe. Evelyn’s name soon became synonymous with “firsts.”

Yet, one of her most notable achievements was etched into history when she became the first woman of African heritage to be broadcast on BBC Radio in 1925, merely three years following the station’s inception.

Her enchanting voice graced various productions throughout the ’30s and ’40s, and she even hosted her own music series, ‘Sweet and Lovely.’

Picture of Evelyn Dove's brother Frank Dove with his wife Rita.

Picture of Evelyn Dove’s brother Frank Dove with his wife.

In 1945, Evelyn Dove teamed up with Trinidadian folk singer Edric Conner to present ‘Serenade in Sepia,’ a program that resonated with audiences for a staggering forty-five weeks, subsequently crossing over to television.

Following the culmination of World War II, Evelyn embarked on a captivating journey, bringing her talents to the cabaret scenes of India, France, and Spain. Nevertheless, upon her return to the UK, her career encountered challenges.

Despite intermittent roles in the entertainment industry, she often resorted to odd jobs and understudy positions to make ends meet.

As the years rolled by, Evelyn’s health began to wane, and she gradually lost contact with her family.

This remarkable artist ultimately found herself in the care of a nursing home in Epsom, Surrey, where she departed from the world due to pneumonia in 1987.

Fast forward to 2023, and her extraordinary contributions to the world of music, arts, and culture have been remembered and celebrated in the borough of Wandsworth.

At the unveiling of the blue plaque, a distinguished gathering included Kemi Akinola, Wandsworth Council’s Deputy Leader; Marsha de Cordova, MP for Battersea; and family descendants of Evelyn Dove.

The event, which took place on September 29, 2023, was hosted by The Battersea Society and the Nubian Jak Community Trust in partnership with the Sony Music UK Social Justice Fund.

In an era that emphasizes the significance of celebrating our sisters, this blue plaque symbolizes far more than a physical accolade; it stands as a tribute to Evelyn Dove’s audacity, talent, and indomitable spirit, which broke barriers and marked her as a true pioneer.

Wandsworth Council’s commitment to celebrating Black culture and the women making a profound impact on the borough adds another layer of meaning to this honor.

It signifies that Evelyn Dove’s timeless legacy continues to resonate, inspire, and transcend the limitations of time.

This heartfelt recognition, marking the first blue plaque dedicated to a Black woman in Battersea, beautifully encapsulates the essence of Black History Month. It ensures that the contributions of remarkable individuals like Evelyn Dove remain etched in our collective memory, acting as a guiding light for future generations.

The unveiling of this blue plaque reinforces the enduring importance of commemorating those who have paved the way for cultural progress and social equality. Evelyn Dove’s enchanting voice, charisma, and dedication to her craft have indeed left an indelible mark on the annals of history. !

The unveiling of the blue plaque for Evelyn Dove is not only a testament to her remarkable achievements but also a tribute to Black History Month’s national theme, ‘Celebrating our Sisters.’ It serves as a poignant reminder of the countless women who have left an indelible mark on society.

This is the Dove family reunion. Stephen Bourne arranged

This is the Dove family reunion. Stephen Bourne arranged

Black Wall St. MediaContributor

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