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Ethel Waters

Actress + Vocalist
Born Oct 31, 1896

Ethel Waters was an American blues, jazz and gospel 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 recordings includes, "Dinah", "Stormy Weather", "Taking a Chance on Love", "Heat Wave", "Supper Time", "Am I Blue?", and "Cabin in the Sky", as well as her version of the spiritual "His Eye Is on the Sparrow".… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Ethel Waters.


1896 Birth Ethel Waters was born in Chester, Pennsylvania on October 31, 1896, as a result of the rape of her teenaged mother, Louise Anderson (believed to have been thirteen years old at the time, although some sources indicate she may have been slightly older) by John Waters, a pianist and family acquaintance from a mixed-race middle-class background, who played no role in raising Ethel. … Read More


1919 22 Years Old 1 More Event
…  Around 1919, Waters moved to Harlem and there became a celebrity performer in the Harlem Renaissance during the 1920s.
Jazz historian Rosetta Reitz points out that by the time Waters returned to Harlem in 1921, women blues singers were among the most powerful entertainers in the country.
1924 27 Years Old 1 More Event
In early 1924, Paramount bought the Black Swan label, and she stayed with Paramount through 1924.
1925 28 Years Old Waters then first recorded for Columbia Records in 1925, achieving a hit with her voicing of "Dinah"—which was voted a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1998.


1929 - 1932 3 More Events
1933 36 Years Old In 1933, Waters made a satirical all-black film entitled Rufus Jones for President, which featured then-child performer Sammy Davis Jr. as Rufus Jones. … Read More
1934 37 Years Old She signed with Decca in late 1934 for only two sessions, as well as a single session in early 1938.
1935 38 Years Old She recorded for the specialty label "Liberty Music Shops" in 1935 and again in 1940.


1938 41 Years Old Between 1938 and 1939, she recorded for Bluebird.
1942 45 Years Old MGM hired Lena Horne as the ingenue in the all-Black musical Cabin in the Sky, and Waters starred as Petunia in 1942, reprising her stage role of 1940. … Read More


1949 52 Years Old She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award in 1949 for the film Pinky.
1950 53 Years Old In 1950, she won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for her performance opposite Julie Harris in the play The Member of the Wedding.
1952 55 Years Old Waters and Harris repeated their roles in the 1952 film version of Member of the Wedding In 1950, Waters starred in the television series Beulah but quit after complaining that the scripts' portrayal of blacks was "degrading."


1957 60 Years Old 1 More Event
She later guest starred in 1957 and 1959 on NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford.
1973 76 Years Old Recordings of Ethel Waters were inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, which is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five years old, and that have "qualitative or historical significance." … Read More
1977 81 Years Old Waters is the great-aunt of singer-songwriter Crystal Waters. Waters often toured with Billy Graham on his crusades. She died on September 1, 1977, aged 80, from uterine cancer, kidney failure, and other ailments in Chatsworth, California.
Original Authors of this text are noted on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethel_Waters.
Text is made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.