"Stormy Weather" by Ethel Waters (1932)

Ethel Waters was a part of the Cotton Club scene. Her singing is another link to the development of rhythm and blues from the blending of jazz and blues singing. Record industry executives recognized right away the potential of Water's smooth voice that distinguished her from other "classic blues" singers such as "Ma" Rainey and Mamie Smith. By directing her repertoire these men influenced the development of rhythm and blues. "Stormy Weather" is an example of the remarkable affinity Jewish hit maker Harold Arlen (who would later pen Judy Garland's "Over the Rainbow") had for black culture and music. This song was originally written for Cab Calloway. Many artists, from Leo Reisman to Duke Ellington, had hits with "Stormy Weather" in 1933. Waters was opening for Duke Ellington and had recently suffered a divorce when she first performed the song at the Cotton Club. Coaxed back into the spotlight for an encore and singing from her soul, the lonesome "Stormy Weather" became Waters' signature (Zinsser). She was one of the most acclaimed black vocalists in the 1930s. Note how strikingly the third set of eight measures, or bridge, differs from the rest of the song.