Ruth Etting: selected recordings 1927-35



Ruth Etting biographies:

Excerpt from the Ziegfeld Follies of 1927 page at

Ruth Etting made her way to New York in 1927, and found success on Broadway almost immediately. Her good friend Irving Berlin was writing the music for Florenz Ziegfeld’s 1927 Follies, and he introduced her to the Broadway impresario.

Eddie Cantor, a well-known comic was set to star and Ruth was signed to sing Irving Berlin’s “Shaking the Blues Away.” The song became one of the big hits of the show. She also sang Berlin’s “It All Belongs To Me.”

But it wasn’t a perfect transition, as explained in Discovering Great Singers of Classic Pop by Roy Hemming and David Hajdu. “I was supposed to do a tap dance after I sang the song,” Etting later recalled in an interview. “I worked hard on it, but I was a lousy dancer. When I was halfway through the final rehearsal, Ziegfeld said, ‘Ruth, when you get through singing, just walk off the stage.’ I got the message.”


The song “Shaking the Blues Away” is one of a dozen Irving Berlin composed for the Ziegfeld Follies of 1927 which were retained for the Broadway opening night on 16 August 1927 at the New Amsterdam Theatre. Ruth Etting, with Dan Healy and ensemble (the Jazzbow Girls, the Albertina Rasch Girls, and the Banjo Ingenues) introduced the song in the show. Etting also made one of three cast recordings.

Of the revue, says:

The Ziegfeld Follies of 1927 opened on Forty-Second Street in the New Amsterdam Theatre. The theatre originally opened in 1903, and was recently refurbished by the Disney Corporation. The overdone baroque decor from the days of the Ziegfeld Follies has been lovingly returned to its former glory.

The show, a musical revue in two acts, starred Eddie Cantor, Andrew Tombes, Claire Luce, Ruth Etting and the Albertina Rasch Girls. It opened on August 16, 1927 and ran for a total of 167 performances, and launched Ruth’s career in New York.

While Berlin may have been adept at shaking the blues away, in the late 1920s he had yet to shake “coon song” era insensitivities entirely out of his system. In the original lyric of “Shaking the Blues Away” he uses the terms “darkie” and “darkies” in reference to African-Americans who “shake their bodies so” at revival meetings “way down south” as a surefire method of chasing cares and troubles away. In 1929 Berlin wrote the song “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” which included lines such as the following:

Spangled gowns upon a bevy
of high browns from down the levee,
All misfits,
Puttin’ on the Ritz

The original lyric of “Puttin’ on the Ritz” was modified for the film Blue Skies (1946), and that of “Shaking the Blues Away” was altered for Easter Parade (1948). In the second case, the most obviously offensive (much more so now than when it was written) racial signifier “darkie” was removed, the phrase “Ev’ry darkie” being replaced by “Ev’rybody.” In the chorus the word “darkies” was replaced. Yet the replacement word “voodoos” may itself be considered a racial or ethnic slur, since in context it would appear to refer to voodoo-practicing African-Americans of the deep South.

Shaking the Blues Away (Irving Berlin) — issued in 1927 on Columbia 1113-D ; recorded on 30 August 1927 (matrix #W144592)


It All Belongs to Me (Irving Berlin)


Sam, the Old Accordion Man (Walter Donaldson) – recorded March 1, 1927, New York



Love Me or Leave Me (Walter Donaldson, Gus Kahn)

From Wikipedia:

The song was introduced in the Broadway play Whoopee!, which opened in December 1928.[1] Ruth Etting‘s performance of the song was so popular that she was also given the song to sing in the play Simple Simon, which opened in February 1930.[1]

The original version of the song, the biggest-selling at the time, was recorded by Ruth Etting on December 17, 1928. It was issued by Columbia Records as catalog number 1680-D,[1] with the flip side “I’m Bringing a Red, Red Rose”, another Donaldson/Kahn composition.[2]



Mean to Me (Fred Ahlert, Roy Turk)

Excerpts from the Wikipedia profiles of the songwriters:

Roy Turk (September 20, 1892 in New York, New York – November 30, 1934 in Hollywood, California) was a U.S. songwriter. A lyricist, he frequently collaborated with composer Fred E. Ahlert – their popular 1928 song “Mean to Me” has become a jazz standard. He also worked with composers such as Harry Akst, George Meyer, Charles Tobias, Arthur Johnston, Maceo Pinkard, and J. Russell Robinson. Turk was elected to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.

Fred E. Ahlert (19 September 1892 – 20 October 1953) was an American composer and songwriter. He received a degree from Fordham Law School, but instead of pursuing a legal career he began work as an arranger, initially for Irving Aaronson and his Commanders and then for composer and band-leader Fred Waring. Ahlert had his first hit song in 1920, and eventually started his own publishing company in 1928.

His songs have been recorded by numerous artists, including Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Fats Waller. Ahlert most frequently collaborated with lyricist Roy Turk, but he also wrote with others including Joe Young and Edgar Leslie.

Ruth Etting, vocal — accompanied by Tommy Dorsey, t / Charlie Butterfield, tb / Jimmy Dorsey, cl / ? Frank Signorelli, p / Eddie Lang, g / Joe Venuti / Joe Tarto or Ward Lay, sb. — recorded in New York on 11 March 1929; issued on Columbia 1762D, c/w “Button Up Your Overcoat”



Body and Soul (m. Johnny Green, w. Robert Sour, Edward Heyman & Frank Eyton)


Exactly Like You (m. Jimmy McHugh, w. Dorothy Fields)


Ten Cents a Dance (Rodgers & Hart)

The song was originally written for Lee Morse who was acting in the musical Simple Simon, but when Morse showed up intoxicated at the Boston opening of the musical, Florenz Ziegfeld fired her. She was replaced by Ruth Etting in the show, and Etting popularized the song as well in a Columbia recording made in 1930.

  • Barbara Stanwyck starred in a 1931 film titled Ten Cents A Dance inspired by the popular Rodgers and Hart song.
  • Ella Fitzgerald recorded this song in 1956 on her Verve double-album: Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Rodgers and Hart Songbook.
  • The 1930 Ruth Etting recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.


If I Could Be With You (One Hour Tonight) (James P. Johnson, Henry Creamer)

Vitaphone Varieties – 1930


Without That Man (Walter Donaldson) –  Etting recorded this Walter Donaldson song in 1930, according to The label bears the original title, Without That Gal, the title in Spanish, and the copyright date 1926.


Etting performed Without That Man with Eddie Lang in the 1932 short film (20 minutes) A Regular Trouper. Embedding is disabled on this video. Click the following link to watch it at Youtube. Ruth Etting with guitarist Eddie Lang  in A Regular Trouper (1932)



(Above) Etting in costume for the film Roman Scandals (1933) in which she costarred with Eddy Cantor, Gloria Stuart, Edward Arnold and David Manners.

Ruth Etting with Harold Arlen and associates, dated “circa 1933”


Shine On Harvest Moon

Shine on Harvest Moon is the name of a popular early-1900s song credited to the married vaudeville team Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth. It was one of a series of moon related Tin Pan Alley songs of the era. The song was debuted by the composers in the Ziegfeld Follies of 1908 to great acclaim. It became a pop standard, and continues to be performed and recorded into the 21st century. During the vaudeville era, songs were often sold outright, and the purchaser would become the songwriter of record. John Kenrick’s Who’s Who In Musicals credits songwriters Edward Madden and Gus Edwards, while others credit David Stamper, songwriter for 14 Ziegfeld Follies and Bayes’ pianist from 1903 to 1908. – wikipedia



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