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Local Voices

Pearl Bailey Historical Marker Is Dedicated

NEWPORT NEWS

A state historical marker issued by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources that highlights the career of Newport News native Pearl Bailey was dedicated October 17.

Floyd Keller, a partner with Ingenuity Capital Holdings, LLC, which spearheaded the effort to secure the marker starting earlier this year, hosted the event at the marker’s location at 2814 Chestnut Ave.

He said about 30 people attended the dedication, including Newport News Vice Mayor Tina Vick; Pastor Preston L. Jordan of Trinity Baptist Church; Vivian Oden, founder of the nonprofit Visionaries of Change; Henry Brown of Century 21 Nachman Realty; Vernissa Thomas, of West End Baptist Church; and a representative of Ingenuity Capital Holdings, LLC.

Keller said Ingenuity Capital Holdings, LLC and its partners now will move forward with plans to rehabilitate the row house complex where Bailey’s birthplace is located.

Bailey, a singer, author, and humanitarian who lived from 1918 until 1990, was born in Newport News.

Her family, including brother Willie “Bill” Bailey, a famous tap dancer, lived at 1204 and later at 1202 29th St. For five decades, beginning in the 1930s, she performed in nightclubs, on Broadway, in movies, and on television, captivating audiences with her distinctive voice and humorous asides.

Bailey received a special Tony Award in 1968 for her starring role in Hello, Dolly! For many years she toured with the USO to entertain American troops. During the 1970s and 1980s, she served as a U.S. representative to the General Assembly of the United Nations. Bailey was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1988.

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