Black American Stories
Cab Calloway Hi De Ho Man
________ Cab Calloway and His Orchestra starred in "Hi De Ho," an all-black full-length film directed by Josh Binney.
Did You Know?
Cabell "Cab" Calloway III (December 25, 1907 – November 18, 1994) was a jazz singer and bandleader whose music and dance moves can be seen in old era cartoons like Betty Boop and feature films such as the "Blues Brothers"
- Cab's father was a lawyer and in real estate and his mother was a teacher and church organist. His parents expected him to follow in his father's footsteps
- Cab Calloway's older sister, Blanche Calloway, became an accomplished bandleader before her brother did and he would often credit her as his inspiration for entering show business.
- Cab grew up in West Baltimore's Sugar Hill, considered the political, cultural and business hub of black society.
- Cab Calloway's performance in the all black casted 1940s film "Stormy Weather" is one of the most famous depictions of the popular dress of the time, the zoot suit.
- A young Malcolm X described the zoot suit as: "a killer-diller coat with a drape shape, reet pleats and shoulders padded like a lunatic's cell". Zoot suits usually featured a watch chain dangling from the belt to the knee or below, then back to a side pocket. Zoot suit wearers' dates often wore flared skirts and long coats.
- In 1944The New Cab Calloway's Hepsters Dictionary: Language of Jive was published, an update of an earlier book in which Calloway set about translating jive for fans who might not know, for example, that "kicking the gong around" was a reference to smoking opium.
- Micheal Jackson's moonwalk was preceded by a similar dance of Cab Calloway's called "The Buzz"
- In 1990, he was the focus of Janet Jackson's 1930s-themed music video "Alright", and he made a cameo appearance at the end playing himself.
The 40's and Calloway
Books to Read:
Of Minnie the Moocher and Me (Autobiography), The New Cab Calloway's Hepsters Dictionary: Language of Jive, Cab Calloway's Jive Jubilee of Songs (Songbook), Hi-De-Ho: The Life of Cab Calloway (Biography), The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Stormy Weather: The Life of Lena Horne
Movies to See:
Hi-De-Ho, Stormy Weather, The Blues Brothers, Stompin' at the Savoy, Harlem Nights, Lady Sings the Blues, Hoodlum
Videos to Watch:
First, you have to love Cab Calloway!
Secondly, I received a link from a friend a long while ago about a 19th century black community called Israel Hill. At the time I was doing research on maroons so I read the caption, re-posted it to Black American Stories on Facebook, downloaded a book about it on my phone (where I do most of my book reading), and I went back to my research. Recently, I got a new phone and updated all my old books including “Israel on the Appomattox”. I was stuck in a day of jury duty and I finally started to read this book I had had on my phone for months, and it was good. It is about a community called Israel Hill in Virginia that was started after a slave-owner named Randolph died and willed freedom and land to his slaves. It goes on to talk about the life and relationships of the residents with their white neighbors up until the Civil War. I haven’t finished it, but so far it’s a good read. It communicates well that our stereotypes of the ‘Old South’ way of life had exceptions to the already pliant rules. Here was a small community of Blacks who owned land and had some form of wealth. They were able to cohabitate on some humane level with whites until conflicts in politics arose.
Shortly after rediscovering my old book I was watching the Smithsonian Channel’s Aerial America: Maine, when the narrator mentioned an island that had been the property of a former slave named Darling who had obtained his freedom by saving his owner. His descendants moved outward to some of the nearby islands and many married whites creating a mixed race civilization called Malaga that became the target of political tyranny and devastation. This 2 minute mention of this mixed race community sent me immediately to start researching. I found that this community came under attack after years of benign neglect largely due to politics.