Warner Chappell Music has announced a new administration agreement with the estate of jazz vocalist and bandleader Cab Calloway. The deal grants the publishing giant global administration rights to the entirety of Calloway’s share of his catalog. Terms were not disclosed.
Known as one of the most innovative stars of the Harlem Renaissance, Calloway’s catalog includes “Minnie the Moocher,” whose earworm “hi de ho” chorus made it a fast success and cemented Calloway as the first Black artist to sell a million records back in the early 1930s.
With a propensity for penning catchy hooks perfect for the stage, Calloway was renowned as a performer with a knack for engaging fans with his music in real time. Using his “call and response” style, his mastery of scat and his mix of melody and rhythmic delivery, Calloway was a fixture at the famed Cotton Club at its peak, as well as on the Billboard charts. His rhythmic sensibilities also earned him credit as a crucial forbearer of hip-hop.
Calloway later went on to become the first Black artist to have a nationally-broadcast radio show, to star in the Broadway musical Porgy and Bess, and to write multiple books to define jive language and the richness of Black culture. Poet Lemn Sissay cites the singer and author as one who “was taking ownership of language for a people who, just a few generations before, had their own languages taken away.”
In a statement about the new administrative deal, Warner Chappell Music co-chair/CEO Guy Moot and co-chair/COO Carianne Marshall noted Calloway’s influence on modern music and his ability to cross “musical, racial and cultural boundaries” with his work as reasons the company is “thrilled” to now represent his catalog globally. “We’re looking forward to bringing his groundbreaking music to a whole new generation of fans,” Moot and Marshall added in a statement.
Warner Chappell’s Chuck Gamble, vp of catalog promotions and creative services and Scott McDowell, executive vp/head of legal & business affairs, U.S., represented the publisher in the deal. Calloway’s estate was represented by Joshua “Young Cab” Langsam, Carlos Alejandro and entertainment lawyer Bernard M. Resnick.