Diva Friday: Ann Hampton Callaway


Let’s swing into the long weekend with my favorite bluesy cabaret chanteuse — Ms. Ann Hampton Callaway.

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She has a voice that melts butter, and then, with just a turn of a phrase, sizzles. She could fry an egg with her voice, essentially.

One of my absolute favorite solo female singer albums ever is her “Blues in the Night,” followed closely by “To Ella, With Love.” The range this woman has — in both her style and her octave — is phenomenal. She’s kind of a freak of nature. She also has the uncanny ability to sound just like an alto sax and a trumpet. A one man Ann band, if you will.

Here is classic AHC, singing a great standard:

Not only is she a primo interpreter of the Great American Songbook, she also writes and arranges many of her own songs — Ann-dards, as she calls them. Her most famous Ann-dard is the title song from that 90s sitcom “The Nanny,” which she performed with her equally amazing sister, Liz*. She also can write an Ann-dard on the spot with words provided by the audience. Here’s an example:

Beyond silly (yet well-paying) sitcom ditties and improv joke songs, she’s a widely respected songwriter, with performers such as Streisand, Rolf Lovland and Carole King singing tunes she’s penned.

(*Don’t you worry, Liz’ll get her own Diva Friday post shortly. After all, her “Meadowlark” is one of the very, very best. Meaning: when she sings that song, I actually like it.)

On occasion, Ann and her sister tour the country doing their duet show “Sibling Revelry.” I know every second of the recording of that show. And if this surprises you, you don’t know me at all. Here is a clip of Liz and AHC performing “The Huge Medly” from “Revelry”:

Ann usually plays the nightclub circuit or serves as the guest vocalist with a world-class orchestra. However, in 1999 she was recruited to lead the Broadway musical Swing! — which, incidentally is one of my favorite cast recordings — I play it all the time. Oh, yeah — she was Tony-nominated for Swing!.  Because she’s awesome?

Recently, her father — the highly respected Chicago-based journalist, John Callaway — passed away. Here is a lovely video of Ann, her sister, her father and — **bonus** Diva! — Christine Ebersole singing “Our Love is Here to Stay.”

Wasn’t that cute and lovely?

Finally, I *just* learned that she’s gay! She explains in the video below. What a nice surprise!

Learn more at annhamptoncallaway.com.

Visit previous Diva Friday columns.

3 thoughts on “Diva Friday: Ann Hampton Callaway

  1. Liz shops at our local B&N and I’ve had several lovely encounters. She’s incredibly gracious and sweet. Was sort of stunned I knew her when I went “Oh my God you’re Liz Callaway!”

  2. How cool, Kevin.

    I ran into Liz in the elevator in the Grant Park parking garage a few summers ago. I did the whole “OMG I love you Liz Callaway!” She was sweet and stunned, and posed for a picture. Her father was with her, I recall.

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