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Rapp on Jazz: Bertha 'Chippie' Hill

The Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes considered Charleston-born jazz and blues vocalist Bertha "Chippie" Hill to be one of the 12 greatest African American folk singers.

Born in 1095, Hill was 10-years-old when her family moved to Harlem. She began her musical career at the age of 14, dancing for Ethel Waters, where she earned the nickname "Chippie" due to her youth.

Hill began singing professionally with the groups Ma Rainey's Rabbit's Foot Minstrels and King Oliver's Jazz Band. She is best remembered today for recordings she made in 1925 and 1926 backed by cornet master Louis Armstrong and pianist Richard M. Jones, including the first recording of "Trouble in Mind."

Hill performed sporadically during the '30s and '40s. She died at age 45 in 1950.

This has been Rapp on Jazz, a co-production of the ColaJazz Foundation and SC Public Radio. Support for this program is made possible in part by Fox Music House of Columbia and Charleston.