This note accompanies the follow episode(s):
The Writer’s Almanac for October 20, 2016: Goods

Oct. 20, 2016: birthday: Adelaide Hall

It’s the birthday of cabaret singer Adelaide Hall, who broke into the big time with her wordless solo on Duke Ellington’s “Creole Love Call,” born in New York City, in 1901. She first met Duke Ellington in Harlem and by 1927 they were touring in the same show. She said, “I closed the first half of the bill and Duke was on in the second.” One night, Ellington told her he had a new song, “Creole Love Call.” Hall said: “I was standing in the wings behind the piano when Duke first played it. I started humming along with the band. Afterward, he came over to me and said, ‘That’s just what I was looking for. Can you do it again?’ I said, ‘I can’t, because I don’t know what I [am] doing.’ He begged me to try. Anyway, I did, and sang this counter melody, and he was delighted and said ‘Addie, you’re going to record this with the band.’ A couple of days later I did.”

She later explained her long and successful career in show business. “This is how you do it, my dear,” she said. “You get to know the musicians. You’re in the places where they are. And then you ask them if you can sing a song. Be very charming, not too pushy. And be prepared. Know your song, know your key. And sing it. And then someone will hear you and take you out to dinner and give you a job. And there you are.”