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Ethel Waters Chronological Classics

Ethel Waters: The Chronological Classics, 1926-1929 (Chronological Classics, 1996)

The first two tracks on 1926-1929 show Waters chasing the blues-shouter paradigm of Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. From there, though, she softens her approach. Her signature hits “I’m Coming Virginia” and “That’s My Home” show a gentler, slinkier vocal and a Tin Pan Alley polish that then and now distinguishes the jazz singers from the blues shouters. MICHAEL J. WEST

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