Saturday, February 25, 2017

Cliff Carter, Mr. Nostalgia
Phyllis Carter, The Sheba
Mr. Nostalgia,
Cliff Carter
My husband Cliff Carter was known as Mr. Nostalgia of RCA Records and CTV's Thrill of a Lifetime. 
Cliff came to Montreal in 1947 when I was just eleven years old. That was the first time I saw him, and I was enchanted. I sang with Cliff for the first time when I was about sixteen years old. He returned to the United States in 1957 and stayed for approximately 12 years before returning to Montreal. I met him again in 1971 and it was then that our amazing romance began.

He was modest, tender, quiet. He was tough when it was necessary to be tough, a real he-man. Humphrey Bogart played the role in the movies. Cliff was the real thing. He was always sweet to me. He was authentic. He was the same man at home as he was on stage. When he came into a room, heads turned. He shone. He was a very special man.

My beloved husband died in 1992 in Montreal, Canada
Cliff Carter , " Mr. Nostalgia "
The Gentleman at the Piano
His Claim to Fame
Cliff Carter saved the life of W.C. Handy when the famous composer fell onto the subway tracks.
Cliff was a young lad when he participated in a pageant celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Emancipation Declaration: Booker T. Washington was present at that event.
Cliff's grandmother and great-grandmother were teachers at Hampton College where Booker T. Washington was a student.
As a young boy, Cliff sat to lunch at Mrs. Pickenpack's apartment in Manhattan with Matthew Henson, the man who trained the dogs and led Robert Peary to the North Pole on April 6, 1909.
He ran foot races with Jessie Owens in the park.
He lived in the home of Fats Waller's sister. He filled in for Billie Holiday one evening when she was indisposed.

He played a special request for Princess, (later Queen) Elizabeth and Prince Phillip in Montreal. "You're My Everything."
Cliff's godfather, Charles Luckyth " Lucky" Roberts wrote Moonlight Cocktails.
Cliff made pancakes for Bing Crosby when he would come to rehearse at Lucky's home.
At Lucky's house, Cliff met Sigmund Romberg, George Gershwin and other great artists. George Gershwin came to Lucky to ask his help with some of the difficult fingering for Rhapsody in Blue.
Godfather, Lucky, and Godmother, Lena, were stars in Sissel and Blake shows.
Cliff retrieved Lucky's diamond ring, repeatedly lost in gambling to Bojangles Robinson.
He met Enrico Caruso and knew his daughter, Gloria.
He won trophies for his ballroom dancing.
He set an unofficial foot-racing record for the Newark, New Jersey, Athletic Club.
Cliff invented a sepia solution which he sold to Eastman (before Kodak), for $100.00.
He was a chef on the old Penn Railroad when everything was cooked from scratch.
He sang with Art Tatem at the piano.
As a boy, Cliff was probably the first Black person to appear on stage at the Hippodrome Theatre.
He taught himself to play the piano at the age of thirty-seven - just by watching.
His repertoire consisted of an estimated 3000 songs, but he did not read music.
Cliff could play ANY piece of music immediately upon hearing it for the first time.
He composed several songs, some of which appear on his only commercial album,
"Cliff Carter, Mr. Nostalgia" . RCA Records. 1982.
Cliff recorded this album for Thrill of a Lifetime-CTV, just weeks before his 80th birthday.
He learned to drive a car when he was in his mid-fifties.
He worked on a cattle boat to South Africa with his friend, son of a Zulu Chieftain.
He polished torpedoes in WW I.
He saw Houdini perform his straight-jacket escape while hanging high above the pavement in New York City by a single rope.
He was acclaimed for his elegant penmanship and was chosen to inscribe graduation certificates for a famous American naval academy.
Cliff had his own radio shows in Montreal in the 1950's.
He made numerous radio and television appearances in Montreal and in New York City.
Cliff Carter played piano and sang from Java to Broadway, where he had his own band.
Cliff's personal friends of long-standing included Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Cozy Coles, Art Tatem, Count Basie, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong Percy Rodrigues, and Billy Daniels.
He was also associated with Sarah Vaughan , Dorothy Lamour - who he always called "Dottie", Lena Horne, Liberace, W.E.B. Dubois, Mae West, Nat King Cole, The Mills Brothers and so many others.

Cliff visited Germany at the time of Von Hindenberg.
He was a professionally qualified portrait photographer and earned his living doing fine embroidery and bead-work.
Cliff saw Halley's Comet in 1911, but we both missed it in 1986 due to overcast skies.
Cliff and I first met when I was about eleven years old. It was my dream to sing love songs with Cliff Carter, but I never seriously believed that some 25 years later, we would be married. We lived and loved and sang together for almost 20 years. His smile was like sunshine, his voice like honey. Cliff was adored by everyone he met. He was a gracious, easy-going gentleman in the best of times and in the worst of times.
Recognition by Thrill of a Lifetime and RCA records was a major highlight in both our lives. Another came in the Autumn of 1986 when Cliff Carter and The Sheba performed in the Parliament of Canada at the Black Orpheus Gala for the Harambi Foundation.
Cliff Carter left us on March 25, 1992, eleven days before his 90th birthday. The world has never been as lovely since then.
The Sheba
 Phyllis Carter

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