Sample Music Essays on Adelaide Hall a Jazz Musician
Female musicians are underrepresented in most mainstream history narrative of early jazz. One of the female jazz musicians who are underrepresented despite their contributions to and achievements in jazz music is Adelaide Hall. She was a jazz singer born on October 20, 1901, in Brooklyn, New York, America. Hall’s improvisational and wordless rhythms ushered a vocal technique identified as “scat.” The instruments that aided her throughout her music career included singing, ukulele, and acoustic guitar. Hall was renowned for her performance of jazz as her main genre alongside other genres of jazz including swing, traditional pop, spirituals, and musical theatre.
Hall began her musical performance in 1921 on Broadway, theatrical performances presented in the 41 professional theatres with 500 or more seat located along Broadway in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. She later performed in Europe in 1925 which was followed by her musical tour in America from October 1926 through to September 1927. She held a world concert tour between 1931 and 1932 that saw her visit two continents of America and Europe. In 1935, Hall had a North and South American concert tour that saw her perform in Canada as well. Her music career in Europe began in Paris, France, where she lived until 1938 entertaining audiences in her own nightclub situated at 73 rue Pigalle in Montmartre. She also performed in the UK in 1938 where she took a starring role in a stage-adapted musical version of Edgar Wallace’s “The Sun Never Sets.”
Hall was a member of several ensembles throughout her musical career including Chocolate Kiddies, Blackbirds, and the Brown Buddies. Hall joined the Chocolate Kiddies in New York and they later had a European tour with the aim of giving Europeans a sample and taste of black entertainment from New York. Hall joined Blackbirds as a replacement for Florence Mills who died of pneumonia in 1927. The ensemble’s name was then changed from “Blackbird Revue” to “Blackbirds of 1928” running for 518 performance on Broadway’s Liberty Theatre. Hall quit Blackbirds at the end of 1929 and joined the Brown Buddies in 1930. Other than performing in ensembles, Hall performed with several artists or soloists such as Art Tatum, Ethel Waters, Louis Armstrong, Josephine Baker, Lena Horne, Fela Sowande, Cab Calloway, Jools Holland, and Rudy Vallee. She is also remembered to have recorded and performed with Duke Ellington with the two performing to famous recordings known as “Creole Love Call” in 1927.
Hall’s notable recordings include “Creole Love Call” recorded together with Duke Ellington. The two went ahead to record “The Blues I Love To Sing” and “Chicago Stomp Down.” These recordings were great hits worldwide and they contributed to her global fame and popularity. Other notable recordings of Hall include I Must Have That Man, Baby, Rhapsody in Love, Minnie The Moocher, Too Darn Fickie, I Got Rhythm, Baby Mine, Redhot From Harlem, Strange As It Seems, I’ll Never Be The Same, You Gave Me Everything but Love, and several others.
Like several jazz musicians, Adelaide Hall’s successful career in jazz music can be attributed to her educational background in music. She attended the Pratt Institute in New York City, where her father, William Hall, taught piano. Later, she was encouraged by her parents to form a piano-vocal duo together with her sister, Evelyn. However, the musical union and the musical dream of the two sisters were cut short upon Evelyn’s death from influenza epidemic in 1918. Her musical prowess later developed when she met and began a long professional association with Duke Ellington in 1926 during her tour in Europe.
With her success in jazz music, Hall bought a home in an all-white community of Larchmont, New York, in the early 1930s. However, being a non-white musician, the residents were not comfortable with her presence in the neighborhood and pushed for her eviction. The neighbors went to an extent of setting her home on fire prompting her to leave the neighborhood for Europe as she feared for the safety of her family.
Due to her success, Hall had several musical compositions and shows featured on BBC including “Harlem in Mayfair” of 1939, “Dark Sophistication” of 1943, “Starlight” of 1947, “Variety in Sepia” of 1949, “Black Magic” of 1949, and “Old Songs for New.” She is also remembered for her numerous musical compositions for Decca Records. Moreover, Adelaide Hall is regarded the pioneer of scat singing and widely acknowledged as one the world’s first and greatest jazz singers. Influential writers such as Langston Hughes argue that Adelaide Hall together with other jazz musicians such as Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Joe Carroll, Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Nance, and several other had great influences on the development of jazz music. In fact, Hughes believes that Hall was an outstanding jazz vocalist of the twentieth century. She is also mentioned in writings such as “When Harry Met Addie” composed by Gavin Bryars in 1999 and Marsha Hunt’s novel “Like Venus Fading” of 1998, for her great contribution and commitment to the development of jazz music.
Link to YouTube. “I Wanna Be Loved” by Adelaide Hall. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fv7C2vfsk-4&list=PLkKFJLenGZHYSBlS9U76-QfjYdP6jsGz_