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Gertrude Cox

Baby Cox

Baby Cox
Baby Cox

Name

Gertrude Cox

Gertrude Cox[1] was born in 1907 into the vaudeville family of Jimmy Cox and his wife, Anna Mae Cox. Gertrude was billed as Baby Cox and was a very popular part of her parents' act. In her act Cox would often sing in song and would dance. A newspaper reported that the Cox Trio was getting six encores every night. Baby Cox started on the bill in 1910.

The next decade of reviews consistently cheer Baby Cox's act in the Theater Owners Booking Association touring circuit. Still very popular and no longer a child in 1923, she had married and had a baby. Her talents as a singer, dancer, and comedienne brought her the opportunity to join a touring gig with a hugely successful "Butterbeans" and "Susie" show in 1927.

And within a couple of years she was offered a role in another famous show, Fats Waller's "Hot Chocolates" on Broadway. In the summer of 1928 she was listed with multiple shows and getting rave reviews frequently which was the height of her career.

In 1929 Baby Cox was compared to her inspiration Florence Mills, it was known that Cox was an impersonator and had sort of based her act on Florence Mills. In a 1929 article, Cox was classed as a kind of vigorous Florence Mills, with only abandon.

The Broadway musical "Hot Chocolates" helped Cox rise in fame. According to Colin Bratkovich, a historian, "realistic origins of the 'Boop-Oop-a-Doop' may still be attributed to black entertainers Baby Esther or Baby Cox (both known for their Florence Mills impersonations) is up for debate. Did Vaughn De Leath and Helen Kane run into Cox or Esther?"[2]

New Black Baby (1929)

Baby Cox the Next Florence Mills 1929 aka Gertrude Cox

There is a new black baby in Hot Chocolates, a kind and vigorous Florence Mills, with only abandon, and an electric leg where Florence Mills had grace and suavity and sparkle. She is a little charcoal person with a decided eggshell finish calling herself Baby Cox. She dances nimbly and sings with less success. And in a thing Goddess of Rain, which tries to be primitive and nothing if not Negroid, a round girl named Louise Cook dances also, shaking tremendously in a new way in the old places. 

Perhaps she is about as authentic as anything in Hot Chocolates, And later Baby Cox does a dance called "Shake Hips," which it is to be hoped, will never get to be a ballroom pastime. 

Baby Cox & Duke Ellington

Baby_Gertrude_Cox

Baby Gertrude Cox


In the fall of 1928, Duke Ellington asked Cox to record for him. Recordings of Cox show her actively scat singing like her predecessors Florence Mills and Gertrude Saunders. The 1920s ended with Baby Cox on top of Broadway and being sued by one of her minor show producers to keep her from appearing in other shows. In the 1930s, Baby Cox was living in New York with two children and performing at the famous Connie's Inn.

Baby Cox aka Gertrude Cox - Florence Mills Impersonator Taken in 1929 Hot Chocolates

Baby Gertrude Cox


There were rumors of her suffering from "nervous strain" but she assured reporters that it was possible to raise children and have a show-biz career as a single mother. But after a musical theater flop titled "Humming Sam" opened and closed in a single performance on April 8, 1933, the press wrote less and less about Baby Cox.

Trivia

  • Baby Cox strut her splits across the splintery Harlem rostrums for several years without so much as getting a summons to the bigger and better things up until she had her big break in the Broadway musical "Hot Chocolates". 
  • It is often noted that obscure singer Vaughn De Leath who claimed to have been the originator of "crooning" might have taken inspiration for her scat singing style directly from the all-black Broadway shows she saw. Leath can be heard scat singing in her 1923 recording "Comin' Home". History books often compare Leath's scat singing recording to Cox's scat singing in "The Mooche" and "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" and often bring up the African-American origin of the sounds. 
  • Baby Cox was scat singing at live performances to Duke Ellington's 1928 hit song "Creole Love Call." Adelaide Hall recorded the duet version with Duke in 1927 using her own unique scat singing interpolations for the record release. Both singers are often miscredited, as both scat sang with Duke. Adelaide Hall stated in a documentary that the scat singing for "Creole Love Call" was her voice, however Baby Cox is sometimes falsely credited for this. 

See Also


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