Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Walk in the sun once more

From my own post about the lady over at my "regular" blog Give 'em the old Razzle Dazzle on the occasion a blue plaque was erected to her in London:
The actress and singer Elisabeth Welch moved away from the racial difficulties of her homeland America in the 1930s and settled in the UK, where she lived for the rest of her life.

A favourite singer of Ivor Novello, Cole Porter and Noel Coward, she was an early pioneer of (then) unusual and difficult cabaret material - she introduced Stormy Weather to British audiences, was the first to popularise As Time Goes By (before Casablanca) and fell foul of censorship when she became associated with the song Love for Sale.

She performed for the British troops during the war and for the Queen at several Royal Variety Performances, and broke new ground by being the first black person to have their own BBC radio show, and by starring with Paul Robeson in some early film roles where black characters were - gasp! - not just "the servants". Robeson, a passionate campaigner for black civil rights, urged her to join the fight. "She said 'Paul, my father was African and native American, my mother was Scottish and Irish, I've got four people within me, I can't make a stand for all of them, you'll have to excuse me.' He roared with laughter and hugged her, and the subject was never mentioned again."...

...Here is a most stunning performance by Miss Welch singing her "signature tune" Stormy Weather in Derek Jarman's The Tempest, a scene described by George Melly as "arguably the campest, most sparkling moment in the history of cinema"...
Now, on the occasion of the 110th anniversary of the great lady's birth, I have no hesitation on featuring this masterpiece of camp, by way of a tribute...


Elisabeth Margaret Welch (27th February 1904 – 15th July 2003)


  1. Thanks for the information on Miss Welch, I only knew her from that clip on Cafe Muscato.

    Listening to the Film Programme episode on Derek Jarman now

    1. His choice of Miss Welch for the part of "A Goddess" was inspired. Jx

  2. That's a whole lot of seamen!

    Fantastic performance and what a wonderful voice. Good for her to leave a bad environment and move to somewhere that allowed her to thrive. Great job of supporting the troops.

    I love Paul Robeson, Old Man River! One of the greatest actors ever!

  3. 'the campest, most sparkling moment in the history of cinema' well I am not going to argue with George Melly
    Adorable and adored

    1. I could put forward a number of other contenders - remember this completely OTT list? Jx


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