Cab Calloway: A Brief Biography

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The man behind “Hi-De-Ho,” Cab Calloway was a wildly successful and popular entertainer. Rising to fame during the Big Band Era, Calloway’s image is immortalized due to his large personality, stage presence, and scat singing. Though he was most influential during the 1930s, his career lasted well into the 1980s and early 1990s. Cab Calloway was born Cabell Calloway III on December 25, 1907. His father, Cabell Calloway was a lawyer, his mother, Martha Eulalia Reed, a schoolteacher. Although they held respectable jobs, Calloway’s family were less than well off due to the discriminatory pay of the time. Originally from Rochester, New York, the family transplanted to Baltimore, Maryland in 1914. Growing up in Baltimore, a young Cab Calloway sang…show more content…
Then there was his gig at the Sunset Café. There, he was house singer alongside trumpeter Louis Armstrong. From Armstrong, Calloway learned the art of scat, something he would use extensively in his own career. Calloway also became the Master of Ceremonies at the Sunset Café. Somewhere in this period, Calloway began taking saxophone lessons. When Louis Armstrong and Carroll Dickerson’s band left to New York City for another gig, the Alabamians replaced them. By 1928, he took over as bandleader for the group. This would be Calloway’s first band. This major milestone led to Calloway moving to New York City. That same year, Calloway married Wenonah Conancer, despite admitting to being a womanizer. In 1929, Cab Calloway and the Alabamians would tour to New York City, where they were hired to play at the Savoy Club. Unfortunately, their opening night went horribly. They blamed the failure on not being familiar with the dance music that was popular in Harlem. In a ‘Battle of the Bands,’ the Alabamians were thoroughly stomped by the Midwestern band the Missourians. Calloway’s band would disband soon after. Calloway got a part in Connie’s Hot Chocolate, a Broadway comedy. During the showing, he reunited with Louis Armstrong and Benny Payne. His rendition of ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ was a widely regarded success. Soon afterward, Charles Buchanan – manager of Savoy Ballroom – asked Calloway to lead the Missourians; Calloway,…show more content…
For example, he and his orchestra made appearances as characterized versions of themselves in Betty Boop cartoons. He also made it into International House in 1933. Calloway also performed ‘Minnie’ in the 1933 film The Big Broadcast. In 1935, Calloway starred in and created the film short Cab Calloway’s Jitterbug Party. Following the list of films he has starred in, 1937 introduced his audience to Hi De Ho and IManhattan Merry-Go-Round. As for his personal life, in 1937, he and his wife attempted to save their marriage by adopting a child. In this same period, Calloway also delved into publishing, creating the Cab Calloway’s Hepsters Dictionary. 1941 saw the departure of Dizzy Gillespie after a physical altercation and the early death of Berry. Unfortunately, Calloway and his Orchestra fell out of favor as all big bands did in the 1940s. He would also divorce and remarry to a woman named Nuffie, who he met in 1942 and had children. The era of Big Bands ended, Cab Calloway and His Orchestra would disband in 1948, and he would condense his group into a

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