In honor of Black Music Month, we celebrate Blanche Calloway.
Blanche Calloway was a singer, bandleader, composer, radio disc jockey, and the older sister of Cab Calloway. She helped to pave the way for Cab to enter into the music industry. She was born in New York, but moved with her family to Baltimore between 1912 and 1913. Her mother, Eulalia, who was a gifted pianist, made Blanche take piano and voice lessons. Blanche performed at local concerts at Grace Presbyterian Church in Baltimore.
In 1921, Calloway made her professional debut with Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake’s musical Shuffle Along. She was one of the earliest women to front an all male band, Blanche Calloway and Her Joy Boys. The group traveled around the country and made several recordings.
Blanche also performed with her brother Cab, Louis Armstrong, Chick Webb, and numerous others and played at multiple venues, including Baltimore’s Club Astoria. In the 1950s, she became a DJ for a radio station in Miami Beach, Florida.