Brooks, Melody(born: 1956)
Little has been written about African American women ventriloquists, and there has been nothing written about those in or from Kentucky. In minstrel shows, it was not unusual to find a woman playing the role of a puppet for a male ventriloquist. Richard Potter (1783-1835) is often considered the first (or one of the first) African American male ventriloquists, as is John Walcott Cooper (1873-1966), who is also recognized as the first to become famous. Melody Brooks is a modern day ventriloquist who lives in Lexington, KY. She was born in Berea, KY, the daughter of Audrey and Curtis Brooks. The family moved to Lexington, KY, where Melody graduated from Bryan Station High School. She has been a self-taught ventriloquist since the age of 12 and continues to perform at nursing homes, schools, hospitals, and at showers, parties, and other special events. She performed once on the television show, Good Morning America. Brooks is also an artist (producing drawings, paintings, charcoals, pencils, and mixed medium) and a singer. For more about African American ventriloquists, see Ethnic Ventriloquism: literary minstrelsy in Nineteenth-Century American literature by M. Banerjee; the John W. Cooper Collection (archival) at the New York Public Library. See also the Vent Haven Museum website, the museum is located in Ft. Mitchell, KY, and is the only one dedicated to ventriloquism.