Sunday, November 12, 2023

Who Are Those Singers & Musicians? ~ Ruth Hohmann


Ruth Hohmann was an East German singer and actress born in Eisenach, Thuringia, Germany. They called her the Ella Fitzgerald of the East, the first lady of East German jazz, a pocket rocket with a voice so versatile it could make an audience laugh, cry and punch the air before the chorus. As a child she took singing and ballet lessons and sang in the school choir. In 1949, she went to acting school in Erfurt. Two years later, she married the theater and film critic Heinz Hofmann and moved to Berlin. When their two children were old enough, she began performing publicly. On November 12, 1961, she made her first appearance as a jazz singer, singing English lyrics, and thereafter made constant appearances at home and abroad with her band the Jazz Optimisten Berlin, until the mid-1960s, when her career stalled because of the ruling politburo's cultural policies. Walter Ulbricht, East Germany's hardline communist ruler between 1949 and 1971, clamped down on anything he felt had links with American imperialism, and while jazz was not officially banned, Hohmann has recalled that "we stopped getting bookings. Concerts would be cancelled at the last minute, with promoters giving excuses like 'we haven't got a sound technician'." It was only after Erich Honecker took over as leader of the GDR in 1971 that she was able to resume her performances.

From 1976 to 1996, she was a lecturer at Berlin's Hanns Eisler Academy of Music for vocal training.

Now an octogenarian, she continues to give well reviewed performances.

HOHMANN, Ruth (aka Die Schräge Hermine) [8/19/1931, Eisenach, Thuringia, Germany -     ] – actress, singer, married to film critic Heinz Hofman (1951-    ) mother of two daughters, founded the Jazz Optimisten Berlin.

The Sons of Great Bear – 1965 [sings: “Missoun”, “Saloon Song”]

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