Alberta Hunter

Alberta Hunter (1895-1984) achieved everlasting fame as the composer of this CD’s title track, which she recorded in 1922. It was covered the following year, at her first record session, by Bessie Smith, the “Empress of the Blues,” who had a much bigger hit (it sold 800,000 copies!). As Hunter explains on this disc, which was recorded in 1981 at NYC’s renowned Greenwich Village cabaret, “I’m still collecting royalties.”

Although touted as one of the ‘20s “classic blues singers,” like others so described Hunter included pop standards and novelty items in her repertoire that were vital to success on the vaudeville stages she worked. She intermittently recorded and appeared in stage productions in the ‘40s and ‘50s as well as entertaining the troops during both WWII and the Korean conflict. She then worked as a nurse before being forced to retire (at the age of 79!).

She began her second musical career three years later, when she was booked into the Cookery. Among the many highlights here are the title track, a lovely ballad ("You’re Welcome to Come Home") and a pair of double-entendre songs ("Handy Man" and "Two-Fisted Working Man"). Still in good voice, Hunter gets terrific support from pianist Gerald Cook and bassist Jimmy Lewis.