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Smith, Stuff (13 August 1909–25 September 1967), jazz violinist, singer, and comedian, was born Leroy Gordon Smith in Portsmouth, Ohio, the son of Cornelius T. Smith, a barber and musician, and Anna Lee Redman, a schoolteacher. Smith’s birth certificate gives 13 August, but he celebrated his birthday on 14 August, for reasons unknown (perhaps superstition); also, he was known to many as Hezekiah (or by the nickname Hez), but this name is not on the certificate....

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Waters, Ethel (31 October 1896–01 September 1977), blues singer and actress, was born in Chester, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Louisa Tar Anderson and John Wesley Waters. Her birth resulted from the rape of her mother. Young Ethel was raised in poor neighborhoods in and around Philadelphia by her mother and grandmother, who worked as a laundress. Members of her family were amateur singers, and at the age of five, using the name Baby Star, Waters sang in public at a children’s performance in a Philadelphia church....