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THE FAVOURITE SONGS OF ETHEL WATERS (SEPIA 1079)


1. Georgia On My Mind 3:24
2. Old Man Harlem 2:53
3. Take A Chance On Love 3:07
4. Cabin In The Sky 3:18
5. Love Turned The Light Out 2:54
6. Honey In The Honeycomb 2:49
7. Dinah 2:45
8. Man Wanted 3:04
9. Honey In A Hurry 2:55
10. Am I Blue 2:47
11. I Shoulda Quit When I Was Ahead 2:44
12. You Took My Man 2:48
13. Paper Moon 2:14
14. Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe 3:08
15. Can't Help Lovin' That Man 2:29
16. Summertime 3:03
17. St. Louis Blues 2:20
18. Suppertime 3:14
19. Trav'lin' All Alone 2:53
20. A Hundred Years From Today 2:58
21. Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child 3:12
22. Little Black Boy 3:15
23. The Crucifixion 3:10
24. Throw The Dirt 2:21
25. Memories Of You 2:42
26. Partners With God 2:56

Title: The Favourite Songs Of Ethel Waters
Artist: Ethel Waters
Catalogue No: SEPIA 1079
Barcode: 5055122110798
Release Date: 4 September 2006

The daughter of a thirteen-year-old who'd been raped, Ethel Waters was brought up in poverty in a Philadelphia slum by her Grandmother and was herself married for the first time by the time she was twelve. To support herself, she took on domestic work and, moving to New York, began working in a Harlem club "Edmond's Cellar" in 1919. She was soon recording and toured with Fletcher Henderson.

During the first decade of her recording career she appeared with both black and white star-studded bands - her name ALWAYS above that of the band accompanying. She popularised classics like "St Louis Blues", "Dinah" and "Am I Blue". Broadway beckoned, in the shape of the all-black musical "Africana", in 1927, followed by "Blackbirds Of 1930" and "Rhapsody In Black". Irving Berlin wrote three songs for her to sing in "As Thousands Cheer" and, for the first time on Broadway, a female black artist was given equal billing with her white co-stars.

In 1940 Ethel secured the part of Petunia in "Cabin In The Sky" a stage musical which gave her three great songs, heard here with the orchestra directed by Max Meth, the show's MD, as well as a fourth, "Love Turned The Light Out", which may be less familiar, as it was dropped from the movie score but the movie version gave her one new song "Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe".

Ethel returned to the recording studio a few times, notably with a backing group assembled under drummer J. C. Heard's name. Six of the eight tracks cut that April day in 1946 are included here: Ethel reprises "Am I Blue" and "Dinah" in versions that still hark back to her first performances of these songs, and four Leonard Feather originals. A further session the following year with just pianist Reggie Beane as accompanist provided Ethel with the opportunity to revisit more of her old repertoire including a superior "Summertime" and a song she'd first recorded in 1933 with Benny Goodman: "A Hundred Years From Today". Perhaps the stand-out from this date is Ethel's return to Berlin's "Supper Time", by now a major dramatic interpretation that might be mawkish were it not for the genuine conviction she brings to the performance. Two tracks with the Bob Davis Singers conclude our programme; "Memories Of You" was one that Ethel had first recorded on a 1930 date, while "Partners With God" was more typical of her material at this end of her career, when she was a member of the organisation that accompanied evangelist preacher Billy Graham and very typical of how this strongly principled, highly talented lady viewed her relationship with The Almighty!

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