29¢ Ethel Waters
Issue Date: September 1, 1994
City: New York, NY
Printed By: Stamp Venturers
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: 10.1 x 10.2
As a singer, dancer, and actress, Ethel Waters exercised her musical creativity and dramatic expression to gain prominence on the stage and in films. Billed as “Baby Star,” she made her first performance when she was five, in a children’s church program.
At age 17, she began her professional career performing song and dance routines on vaudeville. For her debut she sang W.C. Handy’s classic “St. Louis Blues,” becoming the first woman to sing the song professionally. Billed as “Sweet Mama Stringbean,” she became an overnight success with her low, sweet style of singing the blues.
In 1927, Waters made her Broadway debut in the all-black production Africana, and three years later firmly established her acting career when she starred in Blackbirds. But it was her sensitive performance in Cabin in the Sky (1940) that won her critical acclaim as a dramatic actress. She went on to star in the Hollywood film version of the play, and later appeared in Pinky (1949) and Member of the Wedding (1953).
Called “The Mother of Modern Popular Singing,” Waters spent the last 15 years of her life singing at the Billy Graham Crusades, during which time she made famous the song “His Eye is on the Sparrow.”