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Cab Calloway

Cab Calloway
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Carl Van Vechten, 17 Jun 1880 - 21 Dec 1964
Cab Calloway, 25 Dec 1907 - 18 Nov 1994
January 12, 1933
Gelatin silver print
Image/Sheet: 25 × 18.1 cm (9 13/16 × 7 1/8")
Mat: 56.1 × 40.8 cm (22 1/16 × 16 1/16")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
© Carl Van Vechten Trust
Object number
Exhibition Label
Performing one night at Harlem's fabled Cotton Club in the early 1930s, singer, composer, and bandleader Cab Calloway was suddenly unable to remember the lyrics to his own song "Minnie the Moocher." To fill the void, he launched into improvisational scat, singing "hi-de-hi, hi-de-ho." His performance soon had the audience joining in, and his raucous finale, Calloway later recalled, "nearly brought the roof down." Forever after, "hi-de-ho" was an integral part of his identity as one of the Big Band era's most popular and respected figures.
Much of Calloway's success was owing to his own rakishly vibrant style, which injected his band's performances with a festive exuberance. He also had a remarkable gift for recruiting and holding on to good musicians, and among his band members were such jazz greats as Dizzy Gillespie, Milt Hinton, and Cozy Cole.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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