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Cab Calloway

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Cabell “Cab” Calloway III (December 25, 1907 – November 18, 1994) was a jazz singer, bandleader, composer and actor. He was strongly associated with the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York City, where he was a regular performer.
Calloway was a master of energetic scat singing and led one of the United States’ most popular big bands, Cab Calloway and His Orchestra, from the start of the 1930s through to the late 1940s. Calloway’s band featured performers including trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Doc Cheatham, saxophonists Ben Webster and Chu Berry, New Orleans guitar ace Danny Barker and bassist Milt Hinton. Calloway continued to perform until his death in 1994 at the age of 86.

Calloway was born to a middle-class family in Rochester, New York, and lived there until 1918. He later lived in Baltimore, Maryland. His father, Cabell Calloway II, was a lawyer, and his mother, Martha Eulalia Reed, was a teacher and church organist. His parents recognised their son’s musical talent, and he began private voice lessons in 1922. He continued to study music and voice throughout his formal schooling. Despite his parents’ and vocal teachers’ disapproval of jazz, Calloway began frequenting and eventually performing in many of Baltimore’s jazz clubs, where he was mentored by drummer Chick Webb and pianist Johnny Jones.

After graduating from high school, Calloway joined his older sister, Blanche, in a touring production of the popular black musical revue Plantation Days (Blanche Calloway herself went on to become an accomplished bandleader before her brother did, and he often credited his inspiration to enter show business to her). Calloway attended Lincoln University, Pennsylvania , and left in 1930 without graduating.

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