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Mon, 06.12.1911

Muriel Rahn, Vocalist born

Muriel Rahn

*Muriel Rahn was born on this date in 1911.  She was a Black vocalist and actress.  

Muriel Ellen Rahn was born in Boston in 1911, the daughter of Willie and Elizabeth "Bessie" Smith.  After her father died, she moved with her mother to New York City, where Bessie met and married Cornelius M. Battey, who became director of photography of the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. She then attended Atlanta University before earning a degree from the Music Conservatory of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. She was also educated at Columbia University and studied voice at Juilliard School of Music.  

In 1929, she launched her professional career in New York City. One of her earlier appearances on Broadway was in the musical, Come of Age.  In 1950, Rahn made one of her last appearances on Broadway. Opposite Lawrence Tibbett, she played the role of Cora Lewis in the musical, The Barrier, based.  Later stage credits included the off-Broadway production of The Ivory Branch with Diana Barrymore. In 1959, Rahn became the first Black musical director of the Städtische Bühnen Frankfurt, Germany.  

She co-founded the Rose McClendon Players with her husband, Dick Campbell and was one of the leading Black concert singers of the mid-20th Century.  She is perhaps best known for her starring role in the original Broadway production of Carmen Jones. Rahn also served as musical director of the German State Theater in Frankfurt.   Rahn died on August 8, 1961 at Sydenham Hospital in New York City from lung cancer.

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String-chewing bass players, Plucking rolled balls of sound From the jazz scented night Feeding hungry beat seekers Finger shaped heartbeats, Driving ivory nails Into their greedy eyes. Smoke crystals, from the nostrils Of released jazz demons, Crash from... MINGUS by Bob Kaufman.
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