Jan 13, 2012

The Last of the Red Hot Mamas

(LoC) Sophie Tucker was born Sonya Kalish to a Russian-Jewish family on January 13. The year was either 1884 or 1886. ... In New York, Sophie Tuck became Sophie Tucker. One of her first jobs was at the 125th Street Theater, where her strong contralto voice made her a powerful "Coon Shouter," a white performer who in the style of the day appeared as a blackfaced minstrel. Although Tucker asked to perform without blackface, she was told that she was "too big and ugly."
... Sophie Tucker soon became known for both her husky voice and her outspoken comedy. When she first heard her own recorded voice she exclaimed, "My God, I sound like a foghorn!"2 But the public loved Tucker's sound and she became a popular recording artist in an era when recordings were still made on cylinders. In 1911 she recorded her hit song "Some of These Days" for the Edison Company. Written by African-American composer Sheldon Brooks, the piece became her theme a decade later. By 1914 Sophie Tucker was a major star, touring in the U.S. and abroad. Elaborately costumed, she perfected a bawdy performance style that blended ragtime and jazz, Yiddish popular culture, and sentimental ballads. Continued