Smooth Sounds of Seniors: Ethel Ennis

  • Montpelier Arts Center 9652 Muirkirk Road Laurel, MD, 20708 United States

Born in Baltimore, Ennis began playing piano at age seven and soon performed in her church. Upon graduating high school in 1950, Ennis toured the U.S. and London with a number of jazz and R&B artists. In 1958, Benny Goodman selected Ennis as the female vocalist for his “all-star band” that toured Western Europe. Ennis has performed with a number of accomplished jazz and R&B artists such as Louis Armstrong, Count Basic, Duke Ellington, Wynton Marsalis, and Ray Brown. Nevertheless, Ennis’s solo performances hold the most significance in her career. Many have claimed that she “set a precedent” with her a cappella version of the national anthem at Richard Nixon’s inauguration. In addition to her international jazz career, Ennis is also a woman minority entrepreneur, a band leader, a cultural ambassador, and a civic activist. Ennis believes music is not only a medium to be used for entertainment, but contains a “Soft Power” that “informs and inspires” others to bring about social change. 

Ethel Ennis

Ethel Ennis