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The Incomparable Ethel Waters

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Album Review

A major and influential force on other singers and the first African-American jazz singer to cross over to white audiences, Ethel Waters had a very significant career. This single disc barely scratches the surface of her productive career with 17 selections, mostly from 1925-26, 1931-35 and 1940. Surprisingly, there are only two selections from the 1920s: "Shake That Thing" and "Maybe Not At All" (which has her doing effective imitations of Bessie Smith and Clara Smith). The other high points include "Stormy Weather," "You're Lucky To Me," "Cabin In The Sky," and "Taking A Chance On Love." But this set, which jumps around chronologically, could have been a little better organized, although it works as an introduction to new listeners who are unfamiliar with Ethel Waters.


Born: 31 October 1896 in Chester, PA

Genre: Vocal

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

Ethel Waters had a long and varied career, and was one of the first true jazz singers to record. Defying racism with her talent and bravery, Waters became a stage and movie star in the 1930s and '40s without leaving the U.S. She grew up near Philadelphia and, unlike many of her contemporaries, developed a clear and easily understandable diction. Originally classified as a blues singer (and she could sing the blues almost on the level of a Bessie Smith), Waters' jazz-oriented recordings of 1921-1928...
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The Incomparable Ethel Waters, Ethel Waters
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