She was in her late teens at the time, visiting cousins in Los Angeles. They went to a local club where an impromptu singalong began. On a dare she got up on stage to sing. It was only a matter of time before she was the only one singing. The club owner offered her $25 to stay on stage and sing. She needed the money to get home, so she continued to perform.
This was the beginning of what would become a legendary career for Joyce Bryant. She became a top nightclub performer, famous for her voice and for her look. But she also used her position to fight for civil rights, where in a number of places she became the first African American to perform.
In the 1950’s, she got tired of the nightclub scene and while only 28 years old, she walked away from her lucrative career. Eventually though she came back. But this time under her own rules as a classical vocalist. And just like her previous music career, she found success.
Sources: http://www.joycebryant.net/#!__intro/joyce-bryant,http://www.50shadesofblack.com/…/meeting-legendary-joyce-br… & “Joyce Bryant’s Best Kept Secrets”. Jet (Johnson Publishing Company) 7 (21): 59–61. March 31, 1955. ISSN 0021-5996