Profiles of LGBT people, from the past and today – and celebrating their birthdays! All Birthdays →

Alberta Hunter

Born in Memphis, Alberta Hunter became one of the most celebrated blues singers of the 1910s, 20s, and 30s. She began her singing career in Chicago, performing in some of its most popular clubs, like Dreamland, and with artists like Tony Jackson, whose most famous song, Pretty Baby, she recorded. She moved to New York in the 1920s, where she also had great success, and then settled in Europe by the late 1920s, where the social climate was much less oppressive for black artists. Hunter starred in the first London production of Showboat. Over the years she performed with such stars as Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Paul Robeson. She retired from performing in the 1950s, and began a second career as a nurse. In the last decade of her life, she returned to performing in the clubs of New York’s Greenwich Village. Though Hunter was briefly married to a man, her attractions were for women, and she had a long relationship with Lottie Taylor, whom she met during her Chicago years.