Monday, October 12, 2009
Jango Song Of The Day-Alberta Hunter
Song:Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out
Alberta Hunter was a pioneering jazz singer. She was very popular in the 20s but then quit the music business and returned as a senior in the 70s. She was born Apr. 1, 1895 in Memphis and moved to Chicago at age 12. She worked in some of the worst dives in Chicago and earned a contract with the prestigious Dreamland club and toured Europe in 1917. She became very good friends with Lil Hardin Armstrong. She was King Oliver's pianist and later married Louis Armstrong. Alberta moved to New York in 1921 and recorded for Black Swan Records which later became Paramount Records. Most of her recordings were before 1925. She also wrote the song Downhearted Blues which was a big hit for Bessie Smith. Alberta moved to Europe in 1927 and performed on stage and recorded there. She continued to perform on stage after returning to the US in 1935 but had difficulty getting a record contract. Alberta left the music business in 1956 and became a nurse at a New York hospital. Except for a 1961 record for Bluesville, she was through. But when she retired from nursing in 1977, she was bored and decided to accept a two week gig at the New York club The Cookery. Legendary Columbia Records producer John Hammond found out about it and signed her to a record deal. Amtrak Blues was her second album on Columbia and of course Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out was originally recorded by Bessie Smith. Voila! A career is reborn. She made all kinds of TV appearances including To Tell The Truth and performed the music on the 1978 Robert Altman film Remember My Name. This career renaissance continued until her death on Oct. 17, 1984 at age 89. Jazz fans should check out the legendary Alberta Hunter. Here's Alberta Hunter performing Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out at The Smithsonian 1981. This is from a VHS released on the now defunct Kultur Video. It says on the Youtube page where I got the clip that it's out of print but it was released on DVD by Shanachie in 2005. It's available. I saw it on the Barnes & Noble website.