Kelle Brings First Black Barbie to the Knoxville Museum of Art- Family & Friends Day for Black History Month

On Saturday, January 28th, Kelle Jolly and The Will Boyd Project performed at the Knoxville Museum of Art for Family & Friends Day during Black History Month. Emily Mathis played keys and David Whitaker played drums.

Planning for a gig always starts with the wardrobe for me. I wanted to give people a musical history as well as a visual history with my attire. So I started researching dolls and doll costumes.

Dolls are so important to little girls. And having a doll that looks like you says a lot about how valued you are in society. In my research I learned that the first Black Barbie was released in 1980, which to me is was not that long ago. Before that, the Black dolls that did exist were not the same as Barbie and could not wear her clothes. So they were not commercially successful.

I decided to dress as the first Black Barbie. I bought 4yds of red polyester and gold foam to make the jewelry. At home, I looked over photo after photo so I could get a closer look at the details of the dress. I committed to a plan and started cutting.

My first attempt had a wide waistband that I thought it needed. But after trying it on, I decided to cut it off and go with a smaller waistband. I got the idea for the wrap from a pattern on Pintrest.

I cut the necklace from a sheet of sparkly foam. And I made the earrings from foam blocks that I painted red. 

The afro really took it there and made the look.

The audience included everybody from little lap babies to swinging seniors.
I enjoyed the little dancers who shared the floor with me. I wanted everyone to know that children need to see positive images of all people. And I hope this event showed them.

In my research, I discovered a non-profit that donates dolls to girls of color in orphanages around the world. You can learn more and donate here:

What do you wear that makes you feel like a doll or a super hero?


  1. AMAZING!!!! Girl!!!! You look so beautiful as Black Barbie! You did a great job with the life size replica outfit. Whew!!!! Congratulations!


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