Pamela Rose : Wild Women of Song
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Alberta Hunter

    "Woman of the World"
    1895 - 1984

    Down Hearted Blues

    All Alberta Hunter wanted from life was to make $6 a week singing in Chicago. Tiny, homely and dirt poor at 14, she took advantage of a free train ticket from Memphis to Chicago, knowing no one there except the daughter of her mother's friend for whom she had no address. Her indomitable spirit, which would lead her to become an international star, shattering race, gender and age barriers her entire life, carried her fearlessly forward on that train.

    By some fortunate twist of fate, she got off the streetcar right in front of the building in which her one Chicago contact, Ellen Winston, lived. Ellen secured her a job peeling potatoes in a boarding house and a place to sleep. But sleep wasn't what young Alberta was after: night after night she'd prowl the streets trying to gain entry into anywhere the music was. And in 1910 music was cascading out of every doorway. A new sound was migrating north from New Orleans, syncopated, rapid, inventive, joyous. Alberta managed to finally get a slot singing at a run-down joint called Dago Frank's. She says the prostitutes liked her because she was no competition, the johns felt sorry for her, and the tips inspired her to keep learning new songs, strengthen her voice (no microphones back then) and develop her own winning persona and style. Early on she grasped that every song had a message, and with her warm personality, hand on one hip, expressive face, and throaty, velvety voice, she delivered that message to a growing audience.

    Click to read the full bio of Alberta Hunter...

Suggested Listening

    Most of Alberta Hunter's earlier recordings don't show off her voice very well - due mostly to poor recording equipment. But download her version of "Down Hearted Blues" as an essential part of your library!

    The Legendary Alberta Hunter: '34 London Sessions - (re-mastered in 1989) a good taste of Ms Hunter singing the 'Big Band' show tunes, good recording quality.

    Songs We Taught Your Mother - (1961) a must have!!

    Alberta Hunter with Lovie Austin's Blues Serenaders -(Chicago -- The Living Legends) 1961

    Amtrak Blues - OBc Label, 1978


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