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Eva Tanguay

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Eva Tanguay

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Biography

Eva Tanguay (August 1, 1879 – January 11, 1947) was a Canadian-born singer and entertainer who billed herself as “the girl who made vaudeville famous.

Eva Tanguay was born in Quebec. Before she reached the age of six, her family moved from Quebec’s Eastern Townships to Holyoke, Massachusetts. Her father died soon after. While still a child she developed an interest in the performing arts, making her first appearance on stage at the age of eight. With her parents’ assistance, she pursued a show business career, working her way through a variety of amateur contests that eventually landed her a spot with a comedy troupe before making her vaudeville debut in New York City in 1904.

Although she possessed only an average voice, the enthusiasm with which the robust Eva Tanguay performed her suggestive songs soon made her an audience favorite. She went on to have a long-lasting vaudeville career and eventually commanded one of the highest salaries of any performer of the day earning as much as $3,500 a week at the height of her fame around 1910.

After seeing her perform, English poet and sexual revolutionary Aleister Crowley called Tanguay America’s equivalent to Europe’s music hall greats, Marie Lloyd of England and Yvette Guilbert of France. “The American Genius,” he wrote, “is unlike all others. The ‘cultured’ artist, in this country, is always a mediocrity.

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