Personalities | Alberta Hunter | Twenties | Jazz & Blues
Memphis-born Alberta Hunter ran away to Chicago as a young girl to seek her fortune as an entertainer. She survived the cutthroat world of early twentieth-century jazz long enough to establish herself as a front-line vocalist, albeit in a somewhat less-declamatory style than that favoured by some of her contemporaries. She recorded (sometimes using pseudonyms) for Black Swan, Paramount and other labels; she also appeared in several musical stage revues.
She toured overseas with the play Showboat (starring Paul Robeson) in the late 1920s, and in the 1930s she expanded her touring territory to include both Russia and the Middle East. Hunter retired in the mid-1950s and became a registered nurse in New York, but in the early 1960s she began to record again. In 1977, at the age of 82, she returned to performing and continued as a beloved and still-potent purveyor of dusky jazz and blues torch songs and ballads, mostly in upscale nightclub and concert settings, until her death.
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