Baltimore’s Own Ethel Ennis, Famous Jazz Singer, Passes at 86


Ethel Llewellyn Ennis was born November 28, 1932, in Sandtown-Winchester, a neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland, where she spent most of her career. She performed from a young age, starting as a pianist in her local church. From there, she would go on to lead a solo career spanning several decades, eventually signing and producing albums with the likes of Atlantic Records and Capitol Records. She received national recognition for her debut album, Lullabies for Losers, and was even selected to tour Europe for six years with the famous Benny Goodman. It was not uncommon to her name on the bill at Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater, next to Cab Calloway’s.

Mrs. Ennis was the first ever singer recruited to perform the National Anthem at the re-inauguration of Former President Richard M. Nixon in 1973. This opened a pathway for her to perform her another former President in the White House, Jimmy Carter. Mrs. Ennis was able to act as a liaison for Baltimore, culturally, bringing parts of home as far away as Xianmen, China and Rotterdam, Germany.

By this time the seasoned veteran entertainer had returned home to Baltimore, where she would stay for most of the remainder of her singing career. Here, she shared the stage with the historic Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Count Basie Band. Her and her husband Earl Arnett founded their own music club, named Ethel’s Place during the 80’s, but sold it and continued pouring heart, soul, sweat, blood, and tears, into their various art pursuits.

Mrs. Ennis passed away from a stroke on February 17th, 2019, in her birthplace, and final resting place of Baltimore, Maryland. She was 86 years old.