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Ethel Waters

An African American woman who changed the views of gospel and jazz music forever.
by

Victoria Leger

on 2 March 2011

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Transcript of Ethel Waters

Early Life Born in Chester, Pennsylvania on October 31, 1896, as a result of her mother's rape at age 13. Raised in a violent, impervished home.
Never lived in the same place for more than 15 months at a time Stated about her childhood, "I never was a child. I never was cuddled, or liked, or understood by my family." Married at the age of 13; left her abusive husband
Became a maid in a Philadelphia hotel working for $4.75 a week Halloween night 1913, attended a party in costume at a nightclub on Juniper Street where was persuaded to sing two songs. Impressing the audience she was offered professional work at the Lincoln Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland. Career Toured on the black vaudeville circuit "I used to work from nine until unconscious." Joined a carnival, traveling in freight cars eventually reaching Chicago. "The roustabouts and the concessionaires were the kind of people I'd grown up with, rough, tough, full of larceny towards strangers, but sentimental and loyal to their friends and co-workers." Credits http://www.redhotjazz.com/waters.html http://www.jazzateria.com/roots/ewaters.html http://pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/bios/Waters__Ethel.html http://www.answers.com/topic/ethel-waters Moved from Chicago, to Altanta, to Harlem where she found her first Harlem job around 1919 where also in the 1920s was the Harlem Renaissance; Edward's Cellar. Fell in love with a drug addict, but broke off with him sometime before the war. Music and Movies Recorded witth Black Swan from 1921 to 1923. Paramount bought Black Swan label; worked for Paramount tthrough 1924. First recorded "Dinah" with Columbia Records in 1925; turned into a big hit. Voted Grammy Hall of Fame award in 1998. In 1929, Harry Akst helped Wright and Waters compose a version of "Am I Blue?," her signature tune. Was considered a blues singer during the pre-1925 period; belonged more to the Vaudeville-style of music. Remained with Columbia through 1931, then signed with Brunswick in 1932 and remained until 1933; went back to Columbia. Signed with Decca in late 1934 for only two sessions, as well as a single session in early 1938; recorded for specialty label "Liberty Music Shops" in 1935 and again in 1940. Between 1938 and 1939 she recorded for Bluebird. 1933- made a satirical(sarcatic; humorous) all-black film entitled Rufus Jones for President. Took role in Broadway musical "As Thousands Cheer" in 1933; regarded as the first black woman in an otherwise white show. Three gigs at this point. Black musical "Cabin in the Sky"; starred as Petunia in 1942. Nominated for Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in 1949 for the film Pinky. 1950- won New York Drama Critics Award for her performance opposite Julie Harris in the play "The Member of the Wedding." A Tragic End Despite her success her road into stardom was slowly fading away. She lost tens of thousands in jewelry and cash in a robbery, and the IRS nagged her. Her health suffered, and she worked only for a few months in following years. In 1950 to 1951 she wrote the autobiography "His Eye is on the Sparrow," with Charles Samuels; she talks about her life. She also explains why her age has often been misstated, saying that her mother had to sign a paper saying she was four years older than she was. She states she was born in 1900. In her second autobiography, "To Me, It's Wonderful," she saysthat she was born in 1896. DID YOU KNOW?! Ethel Waters is the great-aunt of Dance music singer and songwriter Crystal Waters. In the period before her death in Los Angeles, California, she toured with The Reverend Billy Graham, despite the fact that she had once been a Catholic and he was a Protestant. She died in 1977 at the age of 80 from heart disease, at the Chatsworth, California, home of a young couple who cared for her.
Waters is the great-aunt of Dance music singer and songwriter Crystal Waters. In the period before her death in Los Angeles, California, she toured with The Reverend Billy Graham, despite the fact that she had once been a Catholic and he was a Protestant. She died in 1977 at the age of 80 from heart disease, at the Chatsworth, California, home of a young couple who cared for her. ETHEL WATERS By
Victoria Leger
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