The Scat Singing Master: Cab Calloway

In honor of Black History Month coming up this February, I wanted to spotlight an amazing and talented musician from the 1930s who revolutionized generations of music. This man created instant hits, was beloved by many, and had talents that transcended through time. His unlimited energy transmitted through his electric performances, and his facial expressions and energetic bopping to the beat were truly refreshing. He not only made the music, but he could feel it and it showed in his performances; he was truly connected to his craft. 

Cabell Calloway, famously known as “Cab” Calloway, was most well known for being a jazz singer. Born on December 25, 1907 in Rochester, New York, from a young age he acquired an interest for the art of singing. In his early days, he studied law in the footsteps of his father, although he quickly learned that it was not his calling; music was his passion. If he had not followed his dreams, we never would have been gifted with his legacy. Luckily, we don't have to think about that. His talent was largely associated to his scat singing, which is vocal improvisation; instances where nonsensical syllables are produced.  

Calloway was the leader of one of the most popular bands in the 1930s; “Cab Calloway and his Orchestra”. He became well known with the hit “Minnie the Moocher”, giving him the nickname the “Hi De Ho Man”. He improvised the line “hi de ho” after forgetting the lyrics, and it was a great hit. His songs were used in cartoons, as well as his smooth dance moves. He starred in films, performed at clubs, and was the first African American musician to sell a million records for a single song and have a nationally broadcasted radio show. 

Calloway inspired many future artists such as Michael Jackson. He once performed a move similar to what we consider the “moon walk” but he called it “The Buzz”. His influence was major to later generations whom he inspired with his music and dancing talents. 

He passed away at the age of 86, but his influence and his legacy live on. He will continue to influence generations of music, and his music will go beyond the lengths of time. He was truly a talented individual ahead of his time, he had many fans, and it is amazing how during a time where segregation existed, he was able to break barriers with his music and unite people from all backgrounds. Music truly is the universal language, and Calloway proved it with his gifts.

 Thank you, Cabell “Cab” Calloway, for being a gift to this world, you inspired us, and will continue to do so in spirit and memory.