Lesbian Herstory Archives AudioVisual Collections

Tiny Davis Interview, 1988


Tiny Davis Interview, 1988


Lesbian jazz musician Tiny Davis in her later years


Ernestine "Tiny" Davis, born 1909 in Memphis, Tennessee, was a prolific Black lesbian jazz trumpeter and vocalist. She was the youngest of seven children. She married young and had 3 children. She had her start in the International Sweethearts of Rhythm band, which was formed at her local school but soon toured nationally. The International Sweethearts of Rhythm were all women and racially diverse. They achieved much success. She played alongside her partner, Ruby Lucas, in a subsequent successful band, the Hell Divers. She and her partner owned Tiny and Ruby's Gay Spot in Chicago, Illinois during the 1950s and were together until her death in 1994. A short documentary entitled Tiny & Ruby: Hell Divin' Women was made as a tribute to the couple (1988). She was also the subject of the documentary International Sweethearts of Rhythm: America's Hottest All-Girl Band (1986).

Sources: Jazz Women Archives, https://jazzwomenarchives.wordpress.com/2019/01/16/tiny-davis/


Lisa Cowan


The information available on this site, including any text, data, artwork, video, audio, images or graphics may be protected by copyright and other intellectual property laws. Entities other than the Lesbian Herstory Archive may own copyright of the material. Material from the website may be used for non-profit or educational purposes. However, if copies are printed or displayed, copyright notice must be included. Except as provided above, you may not reproduce, republish, post, transmit or distribute any material from this website in any physical or digital form without the permission of the copyright owner.

For information regarding any further use of the materials contained on this site, please contact the Lesbian Herstory Archives:

LHEF, Inc. 484 14th Street Brooklyn, New York 11215
Telephone: 718-768-DYKE
Email: dyv.lha@gmail.com




One 16mm motion picture film


16mm motion picture film




Musician portrait

Collection Items

  • Screenshot (32).png

    A portion of the 1988 documentary entitled "Tiny & Ruby: Hell Divin' Women", which was made by Jezebel Productions as a tribute to Tiny Davis and Ruby Lucas.

    In the documentary Tiny talks about how she started playing the trumpet, moving to Kansas City and getting involved in the music scene. She travelled and played with the Harlem Play Girls and then the Sweethearts. Tiny and Ruby talk about how they met and the after hours spots in Kansas City where women could be with women. They talk about how they left Kansas City and the formation of Tiny Davis Hell Divers. Tiny says she is ready to keep working and playing even at 76 years old. Also featured in the clip is Tiny’s daughter who talks about how she enjoyed playing music with her mother for 10 or 15 years. She says there wasn’t any song requested they couldn’t play.

    Note: This portion contains no audio but contains Tiny and her daughter.

Collection Tree