American Masters

Cab Calloway: Sketches

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Hi de hi de hi de ho, the popular refrain from "Minnie the Moocher" was Cab Calloway's signature song and Harlem's famous Cotton Club was his home stage. A singer, dancer and band leader, Calloway was an exceptional figure in the history of jazz -- a consummate musician, he charmed audiences across the world with boundless energy, bravado and elegant showmanship. His back glide dance step is the precursor to Michael Jackson's moonwalk and his scatting lyrics find their legacy in today's hip-hop and rap. An ambassador for his race, Calloway was the first black musician to tour the segregationist South, as early as 1932. At the top of his game in the jazz and swing eras of the 30s and 40s, he toured as Sportin' Life in Porgy and Bess, forever putting his personal stamp on "It Ain't Necessarily So." His career flagged until he was rediscovered in the 1980s Blues Brothers and even on Sesame Street, becoming a new cult hero of sorts.

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