Revella Hughes

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Revella Eudosia Hughes (27 July 1895 – 24 October 1987) was an American singer, musician and recording artist. She was one of the best known and most successful African American sopranos of the first half of the 20th century.

Early life[edit]

Hughes was born in Huntington, West Virginia. Her parents were George and Anna B. Page Hughes. Her musical education began at age 5 with piano and singing lessons, and she later learned the violin while attending Huntington High School (in Huntington, West Virginia, from which she graduated in 1915. She received a Bachelor of Music degree from Howard University in 1917.


Hughes began her professional career in New York City in 1920, where she appeared several Broadway shows featuring the likes of Paul Robeson, Marian Anderson and Roland Hayes. In 1923 she was made choral director for the Broadway revue Shuffle Along. During the 1920s she appeared on radio and on stage, working on the B.F. Keith circuit in her home town of Huntington, and at the Regal Theater in Chicago.

After a substantial career as a soprano, Hughes began composing and arranging on the Hammond organ, creating a live-performance compilation she titled "An Informal Hour of Music." In 1953, Hughes toured Europe and the Middle East doing U.S.O. shows, where she played the organ and was musical arranger for Gypsy Markoff.

After retiring in 1955, Hughes was brought back to the spotlight for a round of performances connected with the Universal Jazz Coalition festival in 1980.

Personal life[edit]

While at Howard, Hughes met Layton Wheaton, who became a dentist. They were married in 1920 and divorced in 1923. In 1932, she had returned to Huntington to take care of her widowed mother. Her mother's death led her to stop singing for a while, which brought about her extensive work with the Hammond organ.

She died in New York in 1987 at the age of 91.