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Cabin In the Sky

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Album Review

The 1940 all-black musical Cabin in the Sky enjoyed its 156-performance run on Broadway before the original Broadway cast album became a commonplace of the American record industry, so no formal cast album was recorded. But the New York label Liberty Music Shop did record six tracks featuring the show's star, Ethel Waters, doing four numbers, along with a version of the overture recorded by the pit orchestra conducted by Max Meth, who wielded the baton in the theater, for an album of three 78 rpm records. Waters sang "Takin' a Chance on Love," "Cabin in the Sky," and "Love Turned the Light Out" on-stage, but "Honey in the Honeycomb," which she appropriated here, actually belonged to her character's rival, played by Katherine Dunham. No matter. Waters handles the material in her usual forthright style, demonstrating why she was the ideal choice to immortalize the part on film a couple of years later.


Born: October 31, 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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