Monday, December 05, 2005

I want to change my seat just so I can step on everybody's feet

The versatile entertainer Eartha Kitt has led an unusual and extraordinary life so far, one that has crossed paths with such characters as Orson Welles, Secret Service agents, and Batman. But the most memorable thing about her is that unmistakable voice - agile, articulate, and *ROWR* super-hot. Her best-known persona as a live performer is that of a sex kitten cabaret singer, acting the part of a pampered temptress. After humble beginnings, Kitt joined a dance troupe which took her to Europe for a tour; while filling in for an absent singer in Paris, a club owner spotted her talent and then hired her. Orson Welles had caught her act and was quite taken by her, and he cast her in a stage adaptation of Faust. Upon her return back home, she hit the club circuit and Broadway, and in 1953, she recorded her first album for RCA, hitting the Top Five. With great success on the stage, in nightclubs, and on records, Kitt expanded her career by acting in films, and in 1967, she played the role of Catwoman on the Batman TV show.

In the next year, Kitt was invited to a White House luncheon with Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson, where she spoke out regarding the Vietnam War, allegedly making the First Lady cry. This event caused Kitt to be blacklisted in the States and also to be investigated by the F.B.I., and she lived in Europe for the next decade to escape scorn. Kitt returned to the United States in 1978 to a more welcoming public and government (President Carter even greeted her) and resumed her singing and acting careers. Her recent productions include The Wild Party, Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, and Nine (a show which you might remember being mentioned in the Magnetic Fields song "Promises of Eternity").

Why yes, Stephin is a fan, citing her Eartha-Quake boxed set and also seeking her as a vocalist for the second 6ths album. The first song this week is a fun little spazz-out called "I Wanna Be Evil!" which demonstrates Eartha's range as a performer - coy and reserved one minute, crazed and wicked the next. This version is taken from Eartha Kitt in Person at the Plaza from 1965, which reportedly is Kitt's own favorite album. Did Stephin have this song in mind when writing "I Wish I Had an Evil Twin"? Someone should ask him. The second song this week is a "charming Rodgers and Hart tune" from the musical Spring Is Here entitled "Why Can't I?". It's available on Kitt's 1994 album Back in Business, which earned her a Grammy nomination.

Eartha Kitt - "I Wanna Be Evil!"
Eartha Kitt - "Why Can't I?"


Blogger Kuba said...

hey mr stephinsources. this blog gets better and better; good work. one question (or, actually, request): can you re-post one (or more) of the Young Marble Giants tracks from back in march? i only came across yer blog in may or so and missed them and keep reading about YMG and am really curious to hear some of their numbers. hugs and kisses, -kuba.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Ernest said...

The Young Marble Giants tracks are back up - enjoy!

12:11 AM  

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