9/27/16 - Listen to Remembering Dawn Hampton for an updated episode.
I have the honor and privilege to be joined this month by the one-and-only Dawn Hampton. It is no exaggeration to recognize Dawn as a national treasure - her amazing life began traveling from town to town in the American South with a carnival, singing and playing saxophone with the Hampton Family Band, followed by stints at Carnegie Hall, the Apollo Theater, and the Savoy Ballroom in New York City. Dawn became a legend of the Greenwich Village cabaret in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, coaching the likes of Bette Midler and singing along side Barry Manilow at the infamous Continental Baths. Only decades later did Dawn become a legend of another kind to swing dancers the world over, sharing her story and wisdom from Sweden to South Korea, and everywhere in between.
Dawn needs little introduction - her family has been the subject of an Emmy winning documentary for PBS, her cabaret act was lauded by the New York Times, and she stole the show in front of thousands of swing dancers during the Frankie 100 revue at the Apollo in 2014.
Dawn and I sat down in New York City and talked about her early memories of a lynch mob coming for her family during her carnival days, making gowns for Big Maybelle, performing in the off-Broadway show “Greenwich Village, USA,” the surgery that cost her her singing voice, and what she has to offer the swing dance world today.