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Three Black Greats With Baltimore Roots: Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, Eubie Blake

Billie Holiday, Cab Calloway, and Eubie Blake were three of the most iconic figures in the history of American music. Each of them significantly impacted the development of jazz and popular music in the 20th century, and their legacies continue to inspire musicians and audiences today. All three of them also have connections to Baltimore.


Billie Holiday, also known as Lady Day, was an American jazz and blues singer with a voice that captured the hearts of listeners. Raised in Baltimore until she was 14, Holiday began her career as a teenager singing in clubs in Harlem. She quickly became one of the most sought-after singers of the day, known for her powerful voice, expressive phrasing, and unique style. Throughout her career, Holiday recorded many classic songs, including "God Bless the Child," "Strange Fruit," and "Lover Man."


Holiday was also a pioneering artist who broke down many barriers for African American musicians in the early 20th century. Despite facing numerous obstacles, including racism, poverty, and drug addiction, she persevered and became one of the most influential singers of her time. Her powerful voice and soulful interpretations of songs helped to lay the foundation for the blues and jazz movements that dominated popular music in the mid-20th century.


Cab Calloway was another giant of the jazz world who rose to prominence in the 1920s and 1930s. Born in 1907 in Rochester, New York, his family moved to Baltimore when he was 11 years old. He spent his formative years in the Druid Hill community in Baltimore and graduated from Fredrick Douglas High School.


Calloway was a gifted performer and bandleader who brought a unique energy and style to his performances. He was known for his distinctive vocal style, which included scat singing and call-and-response patterns, and for his upbeat, infectious arrangements of popular songs. His vibrant stage presence, charismatic personality, and flamboyant costumes made him one of the most popular entertainers of his time.


Throughout his career, Calloway recorded many hit songs, including "Minnie the Moocher," "St. James Infirmary Blues," and "Hi-De-Ho." He was also a prolific performer, playing to packed audiences across the country and appearing in films and television. Calloway's impact on jazz and popular music was profound, and he remains one of the most beloved entertainers of the 20th century.


Eubie Blake was another key figure in the early 20th-century American music scene. Born in 1883 in Baltimore, Blake was a self-taught pianist who became one of the most influential composers and performers of his time. He was known for his virtuosic piano playing and innovative arrangements, blending ragtime, blues, and jazz to create a unique sound.


Blake's most famous composition was the hit song "I'm Just Wild About Harry," which became a staple of early 20th-century popular music. He also wrote music for several Broadway shows, including "Shuffle Along," which was one of the first all-black musicals and a major hit in the 1920s. Throughout his career, Blake remained an

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