Ethel Waters: Black and Blue


Black and Blue


Ethel Waters (vocals)


Pop Music: The Early Years: 1890-1950 (Sony 752167)

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Ethel Waters (vocals),

Mannie Klein or Muggsy Spanier (trumpet), Ben Selvin (violin), Frank Signorelli (piano), Tony Colucci (guitar), Joe Tarto (bass)


Composed by Fats Waller, Andy Razaf & Harry Brooks


Recorded: New York, April 1, 1930


Rating: 85/100 (learn more)

April Fool's Day, 1930. Ethel Waters covers a self-pitying song from Broadway's Hot Chocolates (1929) that Louis Armstrong had recorded with lyrics reworked to universalize the plight of being black in a white world. Waters, however, restores the original complaint of a dark-skinned woman shunned by "all the race fellows" who "crave high yellows" (pale-complexioned Negroes). Since "gentlemen prefer them light," Waters laments, "I'm just another spade who can't make the grade." An accomplished actress as well as a first-rate vocalist, Waters puts this across with conviction. But did she mean it? Let's hope she announced, when finished, "April fool!"

Reviewer: Alan Kurtz

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