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Cab Calloway

The legendary "Hi De Ho" man was a energetic showman, gifted singer, talented actor and trendsetting fashion plate. A truly larger than life figure in American pop culture, immortalized in cartoons and caricatures, Calloway also led one of the greatest bands of the Swing Era. Consistently ranked among the top bands of the 1930s and 1940s, Calloway's orchestra entertained millions during its heyday, and the bandleader himself continued thrilling audiences up until the time of his death.

Born in Rochester, New York, Cab grew up in Baltimore. He studied music and voice as a youth, singing at local speakeasies when he could. Cab also excelled in sports. During his senior year in high school, he played for the Baltimore Athenians of the Negro Professional Basketball League. Torn between sports and music, he finally chose the latter. His mother, however, wanted him to follow his father's footsteps and become a lawyer. With that goal, Cab moved to Chicago to attend Crane College.

His older sister Blanche was already in Chicago, singing and dancing professionally. She helped Cab get a job with her in the musical review Plantation Days, when the show closed in 1927 Cab found a job singing at the Dreamland Cafe. In 1928 he went to work as the emcee of the Sunset Cafe, which also featured a house band called Marion Hardy's Alabamians. One day, during rehearsal, he decided to do a number with the band. They liked him so much they made him their leader. Cab dropped out of college to pursue a career as entertainer.

MCA signed the Alabamians in 1929 and sent them on a tour, which ended up in Harlem. The group flopped in New York, being perceived as ''unhip.'' The band decided to return to Chicago, but Cab remained in New York, where he took over as leader of a group called the Missourians. He left after only a brief time to return to Chicago, where he once again led the Alabamians. He soon returned to New York, where Louis Armstrong helped him get a spot in the Hot Chocolates review.

The Alabamians made a return engagement to New York late in the year, appearing at the Savoy Hotel, with Cab as leader. When the group returned to Chicago, Cab again remained behind and took over the Missourians. This time, he renamed the group as Cab Calloway and His Orchestra. They were booked into the Cotton Club in early 1931. The rest is history.

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Greg Poppleton
voice / vocals
Yerik Nuñez
voice / vocals


Album Discography



Louis Armstrong
trumpet and vocals
Frank Sinatra
voice / vocals
Louis Prima
trumpet and vocals
Louis Jordan
saxophone, alto
Joe Williams
voice / vocals
Jimmie Lunceford
composer / conductor
Ivie Anderson
voice / vocals

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