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If you use Google today, you might notice a colorful doodle on the homepage. It’s a tribute to Adelaide Hall, one of the most influential jazz singers of the 20th century. Hall was born on October 20, 1901, in Brooklyn, New York. She had a long and illustrious career that spanned more than 70 years, from the Harlem Renaissance to the London stage. She also entered the Guinness Book of World Records in 2003 as the world’s most enduring recording artist, having released material over eight consecutive decades.
But who was Adelaide Hall, and why is she so important to jazz history? In this blog post, we’ll explore her life story, her musical achievements, and her legacy for future generations of singers.
Early life and career
Adelaide Hall grew up in a musical family. Her father was a piano teacher at the Pratt Institute, where she and her sister Evelyn attended. Her father died when she was 16, and her sister died of influenza three years later. Hall had to support herself and her mother by working as a chorus girl on Broadway.
In 1921, she got her big break when she joined the cast of Shuffle Along, a groundbreaking musical by Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake that featured an all-black cast and crew. Shuffle Along was a huge hit and launched the careers of many black performers, including Josephine Baker, Paul Robeson, and Florence Mills.
Hall went on to appear in other black musicals, such as Runnin’ Wild, where she sang “Old-Fashioned Love” by James P. Johnson. In 1924, she married Bertram Hicks, a British sailor from Trinidad and Tobago, who became her manager and opened a club in Harlem called “The Big Apple”.
European tour and scat singing
In 1925, Hall toured Europe with the Chocolate Kiddies revue, which included songs written by Duke Ellington. The show was a sensation in Germany, France, and other countries, where audiences were fascinated by the black entertainment from New York.
One of Hall’s most memorable performances was in Paris, where she sang “Creole Love Call” with Ellington’s orchestra. This was the first time that scat singing – a vocal technique that uses nonsensical syllables instead of words – was recorded on a commercial record. Hall improvised her scat part on the spot, creating a haunting melody that complemented Ellington’s instrumental arrangement.
Scat singing became one of Hall’s trademarks and influenced many other jazz singers, such as Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, and Cab Calloway. Hall later said that scat singing came naturally to her: “I don’t know where it came from – it just came out of me.”
After touring Europe for several years, Hall decided to settle in London in 1931. She quickly became a star of the British music scene, appearing in West End shows, radio broadcasts, films, and nightclubs. She also recorded with many famous musicians, such as Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Coleman Hawkins, and Django Reinhardt.
Hall’s popularity in Britain was so great that she was dubbed “the Queen of the West End” and “the most popular coloured artist in England”. She also received accolades from royalty and celebrities alike. For instance, King George VI invited her to perform at Buckingham Palace for his coronation in 1937. And Winston Churchill praised her as “a remarkable artiste with a magnetic personality” after seeing her in Black Velvet.
Later years and legacy
Hall continued to perform until the late 1980s, despite facing some challenges along the way. She lost her husband in 1963 and had to deal with racism and discrimination in the entertainment industry. She also had to cope with changing musical tastes and styles over the decades.
But Hall never gave up on her passion for music. She adapted to new genres and audiences, experimenting with blues, gospel, calypso, rock and roll, and even rap. She also mentored younger singers, such as Lena Horne, Shirley Bassey, and Annie Ross.
Hall died on November 7, 1993, at the age of 92. She left behind a rich legacy of recordings, films, stage shows, and awards. She also inspired generations of jazz singers who followed her footsteps.
Today, Hall is recognized as one of the pioneers of jazz vocalism and one of the most versatile and enduring artists of the 20th century. She is also celebrated as a cultural icon who broke barriers and crossed boundaries with her talent and charisma.
That’s why Google honors her today with a doodle that depicts her scat singing with Ellington’s orchestra. It’s a fitting tribute to a woman who made history with her voice.
Adelaide Hall was a remarkable jazz singer who introduced scat singing and recorded with Duke Ellington. She had a long and successful career that spanned more than 70 years and eight decades. She also influenced many other singers and musicians with her style and personality.
Hall was a trailblazer who overcame adversity and achieved fame and respect in the music world. She was also a cultural ambassador who bridged the gap between America and Europe, and between black and white communities.
Hall deserves to be remembered and celebrated as one of the greatest jazz legends of all time. Happy birthday, Adelaide Hall!
Q: What is scat singing?
A: Scat singing is a vocal technique that uses improvised syllables instead of words to create rhythmic and melodic patterns. It is often used in jazz music to mimic the sound of instruments or to express emotions.
Q: Who are some of the famous jazz musicians that Adelaide Hall worked with?
A: Adelaide Hall worked with some of the greatest jazz musicians of all time, such as Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Art Tatum, Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Cab Calloway, and Jools Holland.
Q: What are some of the songs that Adelaide Hall recorded or performed?
A: Adelaide Hall recorded or performed many songs that became jazz classics or popular hits, such as “Creole Love Call”, “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love”, “Ain’t Misbehavin'”, “Stormy Weather”, “Sophisticated Lady”, “The Glory of Love”, “As Time Goes By”, and “Begin the Beguine”.
Q: How did Google Doodle celebrate Adelaide Hall’s birthday?
A: Google Doodle celebrated Adelaide Hall’s birthday on October 20, 2023, by featuring an animated illustration of her singing on stage with a microphone and a spotlight. The doodle also linked to a page that provided more information about her life and achievements.