I’m Coming Virginia – Ethel Waters

Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

August 24th, 2018, 2:14 pm #1

I’m Coming Virginia – Ethel Waters
 
A 1926 composition by Donald Heywood with lyrics by Will Marion Cook. 
 
 
It was first recorded by Ethel Waters.
 
Ethel Waters With Will Marion Cook's Singing Orchestra : Ethel Waters (vcl) acc by unknown cnt, vln, cello, J.C. Johnson (p) with choir on (1), Will Marion Cook (dir-1)
            New York, September 18, 1926
142649-2         I'm coming, Virginia (1)          Col 14170-D
142649-3         I'm coming, Virginia (1,*)       Col 14170-D
 
Listen
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pNn5f_9i_Js
 
According to Evans and Evans:
“Nov 22, 1926. Bix and Jimmy McPartland attended the Garrick Theatre and the presentation of “Miss Calico,” two-act tabloid musical starring Ethel Waters. Aside from the top song in the show, “I’m Coming Virginia,” Ethel sang and danced in other numbers, closing the first half with “A Few Moments with Ethel Waters,” and the second half with, “Some Songs That You Have Heard in Your Home” (with Pearl Wright at the piano).alico Ethel Waters.
 
There is some information about “Miss Calico“ in “His Eye Is On the Sparrow: An Autobiography” by Ethel Waters
 

https://www.amazon.com/His-Sparrow-Auto ... 8&qid=&sr=

but I could not find anything by googling Miss Calico Ethel Waters.
 
“I’m Coming Virginia” was also one of the songs in the show Africana.
 
https://www.ibdb.com/broadway-productio ... 927-444423
 
After Africana closed on Broadway, the cast went on tour and at one point they played in Chicago. From the Chicagoan, April 7, 1928.


An obituary in the New York Times, Sep 7, 1977
 

http://www.latimes.com/local/obituaries ... story.html

with a magnificent photo from “On With the Show.”
 


 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Joined: March 15th, 2018, 4:56 pm

August 25th, 2018, 5:20 pm #2

That's the first recording I've heard that includes the verse lyrics.
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Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

August 26th, 2018, 1:08 pm #3

Some info about "Miss Calico." Link courtesy of Nick Dellow.

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=IJQ ... na&f=false
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Joined: March 16th, 2018, 8:41 am

August 26th, 2018, 1:47 pm #4

From the following, it looks like "I'm Coming Virginia" wasn't featured in the revised "Africana". Look at the program for the show here:-

http://www.playbill.com/playbillpagegal ... ll&slide=1

I can't see "I'm Coming Virginia" anywhere!

And yet according to the following, "I'm Coming Virginia" was in the show! (the original program above just says "Weary Feet" but the listing below says "Weary Feet, introducing I'm Coming Virginia"):-

http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewc ... usicfacpub

Not that this makes any difference to the current discussion about Bix, since we know that he saw Ethel Waters in Detroit on November 22nd, 1926, when she was touring with the revue under its former name "Miss Calico". He certainly would have heard her sing "I'm Coming Virginia" on that occasion.

I see that "Africana" includes the song "Clorinda", which, like "I'm Coming Virginia", was composed by Donald Heywood. It was also recorded by Bix and Tram, for Pathe (as by the Chicago Loopers). However, Ethel Waters did not sing "Clorinda" in the show: according to the original program, the number was performed by Paul Bass and Edna Barr. "Africana" ran on Broadway from July 11th, 1927 until September 10th, 1927. "Clorinda" was recorded by the Chicago Loopers on October 20th, 1927.
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Joined: March 18th, 2018, 7:10 pm

August 26th, 2018, 10:07 pm #5

A very interesting post and very interesting comments. The only other singer I've heard sing the verse is Lee Wiley and that was on a broadcast recording with Paul Whiteman.

There's a sort of dramatic preamble to the song as well...
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Joined: March 16th, 2018, 8:41 am

August 26th, 2018, 11:59 pm #6

I've not heard the Lee Wiley version before. Thanks for the link. As you know, Whiteman also recorded "I'm Coming Virginia" in April 1927, with Red Nichols taking one of his most Bix-influenced solos:-



While I am posting, I just wanted to add an obervation that many others have no doubt made before me, and that is that the Trumbauer version is obviously inspired by Ethel Waters' own recording, made some 8 months before, right down to the arrangement echoing the descending phrases used by the "male chorus" behind Ethel.
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Joined: March 18th, 2018, 7:10 pm

August 27th, 2018, 12:03 am #7

You're welcome. Lee Wiley seems to have performed this song throughout her life including a 1972 performance at the Newport Jazz Festival. I hadn't made the connection between the Waters and Trumbauer recordings before you pointed this out. 
It's often forgotten how influential and well-loved Ethel Waters was, certainly among musicians like Bix and Tommy Dorsey (the latter apparently made sure the Lee Wiley heard lots of Waters recordings)
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Joined: March 15th, 2018, 4:56 pm

August 27th, 2018, 1:08 am #8

I wonder who the cup-muted trumpet behind Wiley was? Berrigan put in some time with the Whiteman organization. And that's some of the most impressive playing by Nichols that I've heard.

Waters was so influential that its easy to forget. She sang unamplified with full orchestras, in full sized theatres, but her style anticipated the semi-spoken quality of 'microphone' singers of the next generation. Certainly Billie Holiday.
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Joined: March 18th, 2018, 7:10 pm

August 27th, 2018, 1:26 am #9

I am pretty sure that it's Charlie Teagarden's muted trumpet behind Lee Wiley. Bunny Berigan was out of the Whiteman band by 1934. I agree with you about Nichols' playing on the Whiteman "I'm Coming Virginia"-definitely some of his best. If you'd like to see some amazing later Ethel Waters, look for the episode of "Route 66" that she appears in ("Sweet Baby Blues" I think) on youtube 
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Joined: March 16th, 2018, 8:41 am

August 27th, 2018, 2:02 am #10

Talking of later Ethel Waters, I just posted this, from a 1950s TV show:-

http://picosong.com/w5uyC

The following was recorded towards the end of her life:-

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