Ethel Waters was one of the most popular African-American singers and actresses of the Twenties. She was born in
in 1896. Waters attained success of a level that saw her eventually become the
highest-paid female entertainer of her day, an unheard of accomplishment for an
African-American woman in the early years of the 20th century. Chester, Pennsylvania
Waters moved to
in 1919, following several years of
touring in vaudeville shows as a singer and a dancer. In 1921, she made her
first recordings for Cardinal Records. Later, she switched to the African-American
run Black Swan label, and recorded “Down Home Blues” which would be the first
blues recording for the label. Waters recorded blues and vaudeville numbers for
the label including “Oh Daddy,” “Royal Garden Blues,” “Jazzin’ Baby Blues,”
“Sweet Man Blues,” and “Sugar.” New York
Waters appeared in a number of musical productions and films during the Twenties including, “Check and Double Check,” featuring Amos and Andy and Duke Ellington. By the end of the Thirties, she was a big star on Broadway.
In 1949, Waters received an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress for the film, “Pinky.” Waters died in 1977. A series of compilations called, “The Chronological Classics” are the best sources of her classic recordings.
|Ethel Waters in 1940|