Let’s go back in time to a different era and take a look at old Harlem with the sounds of Jazz vocalist Cab Calloway. Born on December 25, 1907, in Rochester, New York, after a short period in Chicago he moved back to New York and landed a gig performing regularly at Harlem’s famous Cotton Club during the swing era. In 1931 his song “Minnie the Moocher” became a hit and was considered to be one of the first recordings to ever feature scat singing.
Besides Calloway’s musical act, he also appeared on stage and in films. During the 1930s and 1940s, he worked in such films as The Big Broadcast (1932), The Singing Kid (1936), and Stormy Weather(1943). Calloway spent two years in the cast of a revival of the musical Porgy and Bess, beginning in 1952. He also performed in other stage productions over the years and made more film appearances, most notably in the 1979 movie The Blues Brothers. During the film, Calloway put on his trademark white tie and tails and performed “Minnie the Moocher”. Cab Calloway died on November 18, 1994.
He took pride in his part of the Harlem Renaissance and also mentions Sriver’s Row in his songs “Hard Times (Topsy Turvy)” and “The Ghost of Smokey Joe.”
Click on the photo below for a link to iTunes to hear all of his music.
Below is a video of Cab Calloway performing his hit “Minnie the Moocher” Live at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
Also, a video clip from the movie “Stormy Weather” (1943) featuring Cab Calloway and his orchestra performing “Jumpin Jive” which ends with the Nicholas Brothers dancing and struttin’ their stuff.