Ethel Waters

Ethel Waters

Ethel Waters

Extremely rare contract/agreement signed on January 25, 1950 by Ethel Waters and Charles Samuels for two books, "His Eye is on the Sparrow" and "The Sparrow Sings the Blues."
-- Seven first edition copies of Ethel's book, co-written by Charles Samuels.
-- Very rare, fine Moroccan leather bound First Edition copy of "His Eye is On the Sparrow." Thick leather with gold imprints on cover..
-- 1951 Ethel Waters "His Eye Is On The Sparrow" book ad. The ad screams, "Smash Best Seller!" A book-of-the-month-club selection. An increasingly scarce original print advertisement.
-- Nine mint condition copies of the the rare 45 (rpm) of Ethel Waters singing His Eye is on the Sparrow with the "1500 Voice Billy Graham New York Crusade Choir" in Madison Square Gardens, directed by Cliff Barrows. In 1957 Ethel accepted the invitation to sing at the Billy Graham event at Madison Square Garden; began regular participation with at similar Billy Graham events.

-- "Cabin in the Sky" Studio acetate edition 12" 78 rpm disc (February 24, 1943), with a lot of hand written information on the disc. 8A (USA). End theme song from film (same title). One sided acetate, exceptionally heavy. Time: 4' 38." It bears the hand written initials of the recording engineer, date (Feb. 24, 1943), matrix number...DCO39982A. Ethel Waters sings beautifully with Rochester -- with orchestra accompaniment and a choir. Beautiful soundtrack.    At the time miss Waters was at the peak of her career. After many years of singing mainly blues, she was a top hit on Broadway and finally Hollywood! During WW2, the major studios made a couple of films only with Afro American cast. "Stormy Weather" and this one were the most popular. Many jazz stars, comedians and dancers (tap & Lindy Hop). The label sticker with the info is on the silent (virgin) side, the grooves with the music on the other side. There was no issue at the time of course. This acetate was probably for working purpose in the studio (lip syncing with film, assembling, montage, etc.) Grade: VG+ (some little scars and light wear, sounds very good but some surface noise). Ethel appeared in the musical Cabin in the Sky and co-starred with Louis Armstrong and the young Lena Horne (a Waters disciple in many ways) in its film version two years later.
-- Vintage sheet music from the Metro- Goldwyn-Mayer picture movie Cabin In The Sky with Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington and his orchestra! Movie stars Lena Horne and Ethel Water were in the movie.
-- Cabin in the Sky film.
-- Ethel Waters Signed in Ink 5 " X 7".  Circa 1938.  This came out of a lot of Photos all about 1938.
-- Personalized note dated Jan 20, 1950 and signed by Ethel Waters. She was an American blues and jazz vocalist and actress. She frequently performed jazz, big band, and pop music, on the Broadway stage and in concerts, although she began her career in the 1920s singing blues. Her best-known recording was her version of the spiritual, "His Eye is on the Sparrow", and she was the second African American ever nominated for an Academy Award. The recipients name and address have been removed.
-- One-of-a-kind test pressing (10" 78rpm) of the song, "Come Up and See Me Sometime," Brunswick #6885, Matrix: B-14956-C. Ethel Waters and the Brunswick Studio Band, in New York City, dated March 16, 1934. Brunswick. Frank Guarante or Charlie Margulis, Bunny Berigan (tp), Frank Luther Trio (Frank Luther, Zora Layman, Leonard Stokes).

-- BACKGROUND: Vocalist and actress Ethel Waters (1896-1977) was a key figure in the development of African American culture between the two world wars. She broke barrier after barrier, becoming:
(1). the first black woman heard on the radio.
(2). the first black singer to perform on television.
(3). the first African American to perform in an integrated cast on Broadway.
(4). the first black woman to perform in a lead dramatic role on Broadway.
As a singer Waters introduced over 50 songs that became hits, including standards of the magnitude of "St. Louis Blues" and "Stormy Weather." Her jazzy yet controlled vocal style influenced a generation of vocalists, black and white, and her career, encompassing stage, song, and screen, flowered several times in comebacks after tumbling to low points. Today Waters is hardly ever mentioned in the same breath with other major African American performers of the1920s and 1930s. While the careers of jazz artists like Louis Armstrong or even her blues singing contemporary Bessie Smith are exhaustively dissected by historians, Waters is remembered chiefly by listeners and performers with a special interest in the early years of the American popular song industry. Only a few reissues of her recordings have been made available on compact discs and online music services. There are several reasons for this disparity, all of which can be reduced to the idea that Waters and her career could not easily be mythologized. Her field was pop, not the jazz or blues that has typically fascinated investigators of the American musical past, although she was touched creatively by both those genres. She lived and worked for decades, enduring the tragic death of Billie Holiday, a singer with a background similar to her own. And late in life she turned to gospel music, appearing with prominent conservative figures in an era when African American militancy was on the rise. "You don't become a jazz legend by growing old, playing grandmothers, and palling around with Billy Graham and Richard Nixon," noted singer Susannah McCorkle in an essay on Waters that appeared in American Heritage Magazine.
Yet Waters overcame a childhood as bitterly hard as Armstrong's or Holiday's. She was conceived when her mother, 12 years old at the time, was raped at knifepoint. Born in Chester, Pennsylvania on October 31, 1896 and growing up in and around nearby Philadelphia, she was raised by a grandmother and two alcoholic aunts, who abused her physically.  She never lived in the same place for more than 15 months. She had neither a bed nor a bathtub and had vivid memories of opening closet doors only to come face to face with a rat on numerous occasions. She said of her difficult childhood, "I never was a child. I never was coddled, or liked, or understood by my family." By the time she was seven, Waters was serving as lookout for prostitutes and pimps in what she called Philadelphia's "Bloody Eighth Ward." "I played with the thieves' children and the sporting women's trick babies," Waters recalled in her autobiography, His Eye Is On the Sparrow." It was they who taught me how to steal." Despite this unpromising start, Waters demonstrated early the love of language that so distinguishes her work. Some bright spots came in a Catholic school she began attending when she was nine; where nuns noticed her gifts for speaking and mimicry and her powerful memory (Waters called it "elephantine"). Waters married an older man named Merritt Purnsley in 1910. The marriage was abusive and ended after less than a year; she later married and divorced twice more, never had children, and rarely spoke of her marriages. As a teenager, Waters was often hired out by her grandmother as a housecleaner or chambermaid jobs that seem dismal now, but for Waters seemed to open up a whole new world. She dreamed of being hired by a wealthy woman who would take her on travels around the world, and she would stand in front of mirrors in the houses she cleaned and do song-and-dance routines. Waters had already impressed Philadelphia churchgoers as a singer as far back as age five. A nondrinker and nonsmoker, Waters dealt with the pressures of live theater by eating. Her weight ballooned to more than 300 pounds, and roles dried up. Nearly losing her California home, Waters was forced to appear wherever she could in minor nightclubs. But things turned around with her appearances as a grandmother in Pinky(1949), an Elia Kazan-directed film that brought her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. For much of the 1950s Waters steadily pulled in audiences as the star of her own one-woman show. But, living alone in an apartment in New York City, she felt isolated and unfulfilled. In 1957, Waters attended a revival held at Madison Square Garden as part of the Billy Graham Crusade. She joined the Graham choir at first, then began to lend her gifts as a gospel soloist to Graham. After Waters announced that she had become a born-again Christian in 1957, her weight dropped from 380 to 160 pounds. Through Graham she met and became friends with Richard Nixon and his family, and she espoused politically conservative positions. Waters performed at the White House in 1971, returning the following year as a guest at the wedding of presidential daughter Tricia Nixon. She was also honored by Graham at a 1972 testimonial dinner attended by a galaxy of Hollywood stars. Her final appearance came at a Billy Graham Crusade event held in San Diego in August of 1976. She suffered from cataracts, heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, and cancer, and finally died on September 1, 1977 at the home of future biographer Paul DeKorte. "Because of her trailblazing style, Waters deserves to be as widely listened to and loved as the jazz icons Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday," McCorkle noted in 1994, and Waters was honored on a U.S. Postal Service commemorative stamp that year. But a decade later historians were still just beginning to appreciate her accomplishments.

Send a Message

An email will be sent to the owner

Contact Us

Follow Us