Improving The Community One Project At A Time”
PO Box 117 - Alderson W Va. 24910
© Alderson Main Street 2014
Bricktop and Paris
In 1924 Ada "Bricktop" Smith left for six months to Paris and stayed sixteen years. It was in Paris that she found her
true identity. She would become the greatest club owner the city had ever seen.
Pre WWII Paris was a place of equality for black entertainers. People were craving American Jazz and dances but
more then that, the French culture saw all people as equal. Black musicians entered the front door, ate and mingled
with whites. They were respected as individuals and as artists. Many open minded Americans had migrated to Paris
for the same reason.
It was in this atmosphere that Bricktop found her real talent. She knew instinctively how to host. Royalty were
treated like friends and friends were treated like royalty. She allowed no swearing and women had to have a male
accompany them. "Bricktops" was where everyone felt at home and welcome. If she wasn't there, many people
would not come in. Brick was who they came to see. She sang but wasn't very good and her French was worse. But
that didn't matter, she was Brick and they loved her.
Bricktop was one of the last Americans to leave France as the Germans started to move in. She would return in
1943 to a changed Paris but return she did.
Paris is the city of bridges, so it only seemed fitting to have "The Tribute to Bricktop" on the Alderson Memorial
Bridge. Sunday, August 24 at 6:30 will be the place to be and it's free. Please join us as Alderson Main Street and
the Town of Alderson celebrates the life of this Alderson original. A "Bricktop" exhibit is currently on display at the
Greenbrier River Interpretive and Alderson Visitor Center. Hours are Thu & Fri 11-4 and Sat 8-4. Also on display is
the art of Cathy Frerotte. For more information call 304-445-2005.
Photo: Lena Horne and Bricktop
Source: Bricktop by Bricktop with James Haskins; Welcome Rain Pub. 1983
available at Alderson's Store. Also, see more about Bricktop in the