It is our privilege this year to honor one of Detroit’s own burlesque legends and burly “mama”, the amazing and inspirational Toni Elling!!!
Detroit born, Toni began performing in the early ’60s and repeatedly broke barriers as a woman of color. Music was always a big part of Toni’s life. She entwined her musical talents into her performances and became friends with many musical greats including Jackie Wilson and Sammy Davis, Jr.. Her friendship with jazz great Duke Ellington earned her the monikers “The Duke’s Delight” and “The Satin Doll”.
Toni Elling continues to travel and inspire burlesque performers across the United States, and was honored as the Burlesque Hall of Fame Legend of the Year in 2014. Miss Elling has been a guest of honor at the Michigan Burlesque Festival since its inaugural year in 2012, and this year she will be presented with an award of recognition for her continuous inspiration and for opening so many doors for future burlesque dancers of color. Michigan is proud to have such an amazing woman as a representative of burlesque. The award ceremony will take place at the festival on Saturday, September 22nd.
(pictured below: producers Mabel Syrup and Valencia Starling present Toni Elling with award of recognition)