Sunday, October 14, 2012

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-Eartha Kitt

Artist:Eartha Kitt
Song:C'est Si Bon
Album:Purrfect: The Eartha Kitt Collection

Most fans today are probably familiar with Eartha Kitt from her campy performance as Catwoman on the 60s TV series Batman. But back in the 50s, she was a star of stage and screen and she had two top ten hits with C'est Si Bon and Santa Baby. Rock 'n' Roll killed her recording career. She was born Eartha Mae Keith Jan. 27, 1927 on a cotton plantation in North, SC. Her conception was the result of the son of the plantation owner raping her mother. She didn't know her father but she named herself Kitt after him. After getting passed around to neighbours, she was sent to New York City to live with an aunt who she found out later was her mother. She was told her mother had died. She took piano and singing lessons as a child and sang in church. She was supposed to attend the High School for the Performing Arts but was forced to drop out as she was tossed out of her house. A 1943 audition for famed dancer Katherine Dunham earned her a scholarship to Dunham's dance school. She got to tour the world. At a stop in Paris, she filled in for a sick singer in a nightclub and then remained in Paris to work the cabaret circuit. She got her big break in 1950 when Orson Welles discovered her and cast her as Helen of Troy in his stage adaptation of Faust titled Time Runs. Welles called Eartha Kitt "the most exciting woman alive". She moved back to New York to sing in clubs. Her appearance in the Broadway show New Faces of 1952 earned her a record deal with RCA. RCA Victor Presents Eartha Kitt was a 10 inch LP in 1953. The single Uska Dara (The Turkish Song) did well enough that RCA expanded it to the full length LP That Bad Eartha. It was recorded with Henri Rene and the RCA Orchestra. C'est Si Bon reached #8 on the singles chart. C'est Si Bon was written by Henri Betti and Andre Hornez and was recorded in French by Angele Durand. Jerry Seelen wrote English lyrics and Johnny Desmond charted with his 1949 recording. Eartha Kitt's recording is definitive Louis Armstrong and Yves Montand are among those to cover the song. Eartha also had a top ten hit with Santa Baby. Some of her other songs charted but by the mid-50s, Rock 'n' Roll killed Eartha's recording career and she left RCA for Kapp Records in 1959. Some budget comps don't have Santa Baby on them. This one from Spectrum in England has both songs. Eartha continued to sing in clubs and on Broadway and appeared in films like St. Louis Blues. She is probably best known for replacing Julie Newmar as Catwoman in the TV series Batman. In 1968, Eartha's criticism of the Virtnam War at a White House luncheon got her blacklisted and she moved to Europe. The CIA even created a phony dossier about her. She returned to the US in 1978 and returned to music with the 1984 dance hit Where Is My Man. It got her a new audience in the gay community and she became an AIDS activist. Eartha Kitt continued to perform in clubs until her death from colon cancer on Dec. 25, 2008 at age 81. So if you're not aware of Eartha Kitt's 50s sex kitten image, you are now. Here's Eartha Kitt performing C'est Si Bon.

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