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Black History Month Spotlight: Ethel Ennis


Ethel Ennis was a Baltimore-born jazz singer, songwriter, and pianist who significantly impacted the music industry during her lifetime. She was born on November 28, 1932, and passed away on February 17, 2019, leaving behind a legacy that will forever be remembered.

Ennis was born into a musical family and began singing at a young age. She started performing professionally in Baltimore in the 1940s, and by the 1950s, she had signed with RCA Records and was touring the United States and Europe.


Ennis had a distinctive voice that was described as "sultry" and "sophisticated." She was known for her ability to interpret lyrics in a way that brought out the song's emotions. She recorded more than 20 albums throughout her career, and her music was loved by fans worldwide.


One of Ennis's most significant accomplishments was her role as the first African American woman to host her own television show in Baltimore. Her show, "The Ethel Ennis Show," aired in the 1960s and featured Ennis singing and interviewing other musicians. Ennis was also a trailblazer in her support of civil rights. She was an active member of the Baltimore chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality and participated in sit-ins and other protests. She performed at numerous benefit concerts for organizations such as the NAACP and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

In addition to her music and activism, Ennis was also an accomplished songwriter. Her song "Love For Sale" was a hit for the Four Tops, and she wrote many other songs recorded by other artists. Ennis received numerous honors throughout her lifetime, including induction into the Baltimore Jazz Hall of Fame and the Maryland Women's Hall of Fame. She was also recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts as a Jazz Master, the highest honor for a jazz musician in the United States.


Ethel Ennis was a true icon in the music industry and a trailblazer for women and African Americans. We honor her during Black History Month and celebrate her legacy. Her talent and contributions will always be remembered, and she will continue to inspire generations to come.


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