Ethel Ennis first won national recognition for her recording "Lullaby for Losers" in 1955. In 1958, she was selected by Benny Goodman as the female vocalist for his all-star band. Later, she was chosen as a featured singer on the Arthur Godfrey Show. After performing at the 1964 Newport Jazz Festival with Billy Taylor, Cozy Cole, and Slam Stewart, she appeared with Duke Ellington and his Orchestra on television's "Bell Telephone Hour." She followed those amazing achievements by wowing them at the Monterey Jazz Festival in duets with Joe Williams. She returned to her hometown to perform in concerts with the Count Basie Band and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. During that same period, she shared the bill with Cab Calloway at Harlem's Apollo Theater and played supper clubs and concert halls all over the country.
In the seventies, she founded the practice of singing the National Anthem a capella at Richard Nixon's 1973 presidential inauguration. She performed at the White House for Jimmy Carter as well. During the period, she became Baltimore's cultural ambassador, singing Chinese folk songs in Baltimore's sister city of Xiamen, China as well as performing in Rotterdam, Germany.
In the 1980's, Ethel opened her own music club, Ethel's Place with her husband, writer Earl Arnett. They presented the world's greatest jazz musicians and broadcast live concerts to national audiences. They sold the club in 1988, each returning full-time to their artistic pursuits.
Frank Sinatra once described her as, "my kind of singer." A Downbeat reviewer once said of Ethel, "her voice runs deep, exuding the personality of a sage who has lived many lives." She is the great sage of jazz and if you can find any one of her two dozen records and singles, you will have added a national treasure to your collection.
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