Born Adelaide Louisa Hall, 20 October 1901, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA, d. 7 November 1993, London, England. Though not a jazz singer, Hall became one of the most famous vocalists in jazz history through her wordless vocals on such Duke Ellington recordings as "Creole Love Call" and "The Blues I Love To Sing". Other numbers with which she was indelibly associated, included "Sophisticated Lady", "Old Fashioned Love", "Memories Of You", "Solitude", "Don't Get Around Much Anymore" and "Don't Worry 'Bout Me". Many of the songs she sang were written especially for her. Her fine soprano voice was developed by her father, a music professor. Like her friend, Lena Horne, her name will always be associated with Harlem's famous Cotton Club and the "greats" who gathered there, such as Ellington, Fats Waller and composer Harold Arlen.
Hall, a self-taught tap dancer, played in a Eubie Blake-Noble Sissle show in the early 20s, and appeared in a series of revues, including Shuffle Along and Desires Of 1927. She starred in Lew Leslie's Blackbirds Of 1928, in a cast that also included Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, and Elisabeth Welch. The Dorothy Fields/Jimmy McHugh score introduced "Diga Diga Doo", "Doin' The New Low-Down", "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and a pre-George Gershwin "Porgy". When the show transferred to the Moulin Rouge in Paris, Hall went with it, and stayed on to sing at the Lido. By this time she had married an English seaman, Bert Hicks. He opened a club for her, called La Grosse Pomme (The Big Apple), whose clientele included Django Reinhardt, Maurice Chevalier and Charles Boyer. In the early 30s she recorded with Duke Ellington and Willy Lewis in the USA, and was also accompanied by pianists Art Tatum and Joe Turner on a New York session which produced "This Time It's Love". During the rest of the decade she toured extensively in the USA and Europe, and by the late 30s had settled in Britain, where she lived for over 50 years. In 1938 Hall appeared at London's Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in The Sun Never Sets, a musical in which she impressed audiences and critics with her version of Vivian Ellis' title song. In the same year she recorded four songs with Fats Waller in London: "That Old Feeling", "I Can't Give You Anything But Love", "Smoke Dreams" and "You Can't Have Your Cake And Eat It". With her husband, she opened the Florida Club in Bruton Mews, but it was destroyed during a bombing raid in World War II. Later she joined an ENSA company and was one of the first artists into Germany after the liberation.
After the war Hall worked consistently, singing in theatres throughout the country, on cruise liners, and on her own radio show, accompanied by the Joe Loss Orchestra. In 1951 she starred in the London version of Cole Porter's Kiss Me, Kate, and, in the following year, sang "A Touch Of Voodoo" and "Kind To Animals" in Jack Gray and Hugh Martin's hit musical, Love From Judy, at the Saville Theatre. In 1957 she was back on Broadway, with Lena Horne, in Jamaica, which ran for over 500 performances. In 1963, shortly after opening a new club, the Calypso, in London's Regent Street, Adelaide's husband Bert died. During the 60s and 70s, Hall was out of the limelight, but in the 80s, came a renaissance, partly sparked by the release of Francis Ford Coppola's movie The Cotton CluBorn From then on she was in constant demand for cabaret at the Ritz Hotel, and other UK venues such as the Donmar Warehouse and the King's Head, Islington. In 1988, she presented her one-woman show at New York's Carnegie Hall, and three years later, was joined onstage at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall by artists such as Larry Adler, Ralph McTell and Roy Budd, in a concert to celebrate her 90th birthday.
That Wonderful Adelaide Hall (Columbia 1969)***, Hall Of Fame (Columbia 1970)***, Crooning Blackbird (EPM 1993)***, Red Hot From Harlem (Pearl 1994)***, A Centenary Collection (Avid 2002)***.
Underneath A Harlem Moon, Iain Cameron Williams.
Crooning Blackbird: 1927-1939
A Centenary Collection *
Hall Of Fame
Red Hot From Harlem
Source: Encyclopedia of Popular Music