Updated: Oct 20
Adelaide Hall was the jazz singer who introduced scat singing and was a household name in 1930s Britain.
On the 20th October 2023, in honour of UK Black History Month, Google Doodle celebrated the 122nd birthday of Adelaide Hall, a jazz singer who is widely recognised for introducing scat singing during the Harlem Renaissance. The American-born, UK-based entertainer had a record-breaking career that spanned more than 70 years. The Doodle artwork was illustrated by London-based guest artist Hannah Ekuwa Buckman.
Hall was born on this day in 1901 in Brooklyn, New York. Adelaide’s father taught her and her sister piano from a young age. After the tragic deaths of her father and sister, Adelaide had no choice but to support herself and her mother. She began her career singing in the chorus line for Shuffle Along (1921), a popular all-Black musical on Broadway that helped establish African American show business. In 1925, Hall embarked on a European tour for Chocolate Kiddies playing in numerous cities including Hamburg, Geneva, Paris, and Vienna. The show was a resounding international success. Later, she returned to Manhattan and continued performing on Broadway’s biggest stages.
Her breakout moment came in 1927 when she hummed along to a show tune by Duke Ellington. The jazz star was entranced by her wordless yet emotive melody and asked her to record it with his band. A year later, that same song, Creole Love Call, landed on the American Billboard charts at #19 — and just like that, scat singing was born. It wasn’t long before Adelaide Hall became a household name in both the U.S. and Europe.
Soon after, Hall joined the cast for Lew Leslie’s Blackbirds of 1928. The musical ran for more than 500 performances and attracted over a million viewers before moving to the Moulin Rouge in Paris. The audiences in Europe welcomed her with open arms, so much so that she decided to permanently move to the U.K. in 1938. Her international success only grew from there.
Hall’s entertainment career spanned an impressive eight decades — in fact, she currently holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s most enduring recording artist. Her songs continue to move listeners with each note and lyric, and her legacy lives on in the hearts of many.
Happy birthday, Adelaide Hall!