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On this date in 1901, Juanita Hall was born. She was a Black singer and actress.
She was born in Keyport, N.J., educated in the public school system there, and developed her voice while singing in the local Catholic church choir. Hall attended the Juilliard School of Music in New York City. When she was still a teenager she married Clement Hall, who died in 1920.
Her first successful performance was as Julie in "Show Boat" in 1928. Hall appeared in "Green Pastures" in 1930 with the Hall Johnson Choir and eventually became the assistant choir director.
She extended her director abilities to included the Works Progress Administration Chorus from 1935 to 1944, the Westchester Chorale and Dramatics Association from 1941 to 1942, and to her own choir, The Juanita Hall Choir, in 1942. Hall’s voice could be heard on the radio too, with Rudy Vallee and Kate Smith. She sang on Broadway from 1943 to 1947 in "The Pirate" "Sing Out, Sweet Land," "Saint Louis Woman," "Deep Are the Roots," and "Street Scene." Hall sang on the nightclub circuit and was discovered by Richard Rogers, who cast her in the role of Bloody Mary in the play, "South Pacific," in 1949, where she won the Donaldson Award for her supporting role. Hall played all of her characters most convincingly.
She performed in her one-woman show, "A Woman and the Blues," and was cast as the Chinese Madam Liang in "Flower Drum Song." Complications of diabetes caused the death of Juanita Hall on February 28, 1968.
Black Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York