This Weekend in NYC I am attending a celebration of life for one of the most amazing woman I have ever met, Dawn Hampton (she passed away Sept 25th, 2016). She was an awe-inspiring woman who achieved so much in her life and what she gave to the Lindy Hop world alone will never ever be forgotten.

It is also Black History month, so I think it’s important that the planet (or at least my readers) learn a bit more about the unforgettable Dawn and her accomplishments.

Dawn Hampton

Before we begin, please note that today’s post is a Repost from Toronto Lindy Hop which originally posted Aug 12, 2015 (over a year before Dawn passed away) and written by yours truly.

Dawn Hampton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Dawn was born in 1928, in Middletown Ohio and was one of 12 children in her family.

2. Her father Clark Deacon Hampton, Sr., had a family band and vaudeville act, which was part of a traveling carnival. Dawn grew up listening to the music of the family band, ‘Deacon Hampton’s Pickaninnys’.

Deacon Hampton's Pickaninnys

3. Dawn began performing at the age of 3 and two years later sang “He Takes Me to Paradise” (Source).

4. When she was very young, she wanted to be a ballet dancer then she found out that ballet does not swing (source).

5. In the mid 1950s Dawn and her sisters became the ‘Hampton Sisters’ after several of their brothers went off to study music. They had a very long career together.

Hampton-Sisters
Hampton Sisters (left)-Carmelita, Dawn, Altera, Virtue

6. 1958 Dawn joined the cast of the Off-Broadway hit show, “Greenwich Village, U.S.A.”. The show ran for a year at New York’s legendary ‘The Bon Soir’. An original cast album of the show features several solo tracks by Dawn.

Dawn Hampton
Source: Richard Skipper

7. During the early 60’s, Dawn worked as the house singer at the ‘Lion’s Den’. The Lion’s Den was also the scene of a singer’s talent competition. Barbara Streisand relates in a Vanity Fair interview that one of her first times singing on stage was at one of these competitions. She tells how she was a little unnerved, because she came on stage after Dawn, “and the lusty applause for Dawn Hampton [was] ringing in my ears.”

8. Surgery in 1964 to her vocal cords saw Dawn lose most of her vocal range BUT she never lost her eagerness or ability to perform and her optimistic spirit.

9. Dawn spent much of the next 20 years performing  as a cabaret singer in clubs around New York City. Reviewers called her a “singer’s singer” and dubbed her the “Queen of Cabaret”.

Dawn Hampton Cabaret Performer

10. Dawn is talented in writing music and lyrics: In 1989 Dawn collaborated with pianist/performer Mark Nadler, writing music and lyrics for the honky-tonk mini-opera ‘Red Light’ which was given the Manhattan Association of Cabarets (MAC) Award in 1990. Dawn and Mark also collaborated on ‘An Evening with Dawn Hampton’, which enjoyed an extended run at ‘Don’t Tell Mama’.

Dawn also wrote the music and lyrics for the play “Madame C. J. Walker” (Madame (1867-1919) was an African-American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a political and social activist. Eulogized as the first female self-made millionaire in America).

Lastly, she would find time to write a book with her niece, entitled ‘Two Penny Soap Opera’.

Deacon Hampton's Pickaninnys
Source: Richard Skipper

11. 1992-Dawn appeared with Frankie Manning in the Movie ‘Malcom X’.

12.  In the late 90s and into the early 00s, Hampton took advantage of the craze for swing dance by bringing to the scene her smooth style and theatrical presence that has brought her international acclaim. She has never stopped since those early days.

Dawn Hampton and frankie Manning
Dawn Hampton with Frankie Manning (June 2007) by photographer Eli Pritykin.
Dawn Hampton
Dawn Hampton, Ryan Francois, John Dokes – Splanky at Frankie’s Centennial Savoy Ball 2014 – Photo by Jane Kratchovil

13. Dawn lives in NYC and can be found in New York City dancing and listening to some of the best swing bands around.

14. Dawn and her family are in a documentary called ‘The Unforgettable Hampton Family’ that aired in 2011 (click on image to watch doc).

The Unforgettable Hampton Family
Source: Culture Unplugged

15. Dawn has been known to answer her phone saying “God Is Good. The Light Is On!” (source).

Dawn Hampton
Source: Advanced Style Blog Post

In Conclusion: 

Watching Dawn dance heightens the experience of merely listening to jazz and reunites the relationship between music and movement. In Dawn’s own words, “The light IS on!”

Check out Dawn’s talk at TLH Sunday of TOWLHD, as well as watch her dance dance dance 🙂

Lastly, here is my husband and I with Dawn during her visit to Toronto in 2015.

Dawn Hampton Toronto Lindy Hop

Hope you enjoyed learning about Dawn and her life. If you are interested in watching the celebrations this Saturday, they will be livestreamed HERE

Liz

7 comments on “Who is Dawn Hampton? 15 Awesome Facts about Dawn”

  1. Wow, Liz. So sorry I missed that live feed! I’ve been so busy I haven’t been checking my favorite blogger postings. Thanks for the info on this amazing lady. I have never had the pleasure to meet her, though I’ve been to Lindy workshops where I met Frankie Manning, Chaz Young and Norma Miller. Watching them dance is one of my fondest memories. It’s so sad we’re losing these icons of the swing era. I’m sure last Saturday’s dance Celebrating Dawn’s life was magical!

    • Don’t worry Theresa, yehoodi has a someone what shaky feed on their website. I have been told their will be an official video of the actual ceremony itself later on (it was absolutely wonderful!). She was a one of a kind woman and will be truly missed.

      I to have met Frankie, Norma and Chaz (he had a drink on my balcony!) and I’m glad that I had the chance. I am also glad that many lindy hoppers today are documenting their time and their stories, so that when they do eventually leave us their stories and their contributions will never be lost.

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