Ethel Ennis


October 21, 2006|By Frederick N. Rasmussen

Known as a Baltimore cultural treasure and the city's "First Lady of Jazz," Ethel Ennis recently celebrated 50 years as a professional singer.

Through the years, the Baltimore-born Ennis toured Europe with Benny Goodman and performed with Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. She starred at the Newport and Monterey jazz festivals with the Miles Davis-John Coltrane Sextet and sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at President Richard M. Nixon's 1973 inauguration.

"I don't feel like I'm 74, yet some days I do," Ennis said, with a quick laugh.

Ennis, whose latest CD, Ennis Anyone?, was released in 2005, says that being on the road touring is no longer what she wants to do. Also last year, she participated in a weeklong tribute at New York's Lincoln Center to composer and songwriter Vernon Duke.

"I continue to perform but not much in Baltimore. My engagements are scattered, and I'm not crazy about smoky clubs, either," she said.

Locally, fans can catch her singing at the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis or the Montpelier Arts Center in Laurel.

Ennis lives in Northwest Baltimore with her husband of 40 years, Earl Arnett, a former Sun features reporter.

"We've blended our professional and personal lives," Arnett said.

"And we haven't had a bad day yet," Ennis said.

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