In 1921, an unheralded teenager named Adelaide Hall appeared as just
another hoofer in the chorus line for the musical Shuffle Along.
A scant seven years later, her role in the Broadway revue Blackbirds
of 1928 (the most famous of the series of Blackbirds
revues mounted during the 1920s and 30s) brought her international
fame. Hall's stage performance in that production—in which the newcomer
performed alongside a legend, tap dancer Bill "Bojangles"Robinson—attracted
international media attention. It also launched the song "I Can't
Give You Anything But Love"—just one of the many beloved
tunes that members of the public would come to associate with Adelaide
The singer also earned renown for her innovative phrasings. Her wordless singing
on Duke Ellington's recording of "Creole Love Call" prefigured the
scat singing later made famous by Ella Fitzgerald. (In scat singing—sometimes
called mouth music—the voice is used to mimic various jazz instruments,
notably the trumpet, trombone, and saxophone.) Hall went on to perform regularly
with jazz greats such as Art Tatum and Fats Waller.
Hall performed at venues throughout the United States and Europe
before settling in Britain. She established her own nightclubs in
London and Paris, and continued to perform in European nightspots
for more than 50 years.