Mates’ Crates, a series headed up by our friend Andrei Sandu, dives into the tales behind records and digs deeper into our connections to music. These are not reviews, they’re stories. Next up, Eartha Kitt’s Where Is My Man.
Year: 1983 | Label: In The Mix (Scorpio) | Discogs: Eartha Kitt – Where Is My Man
Too few know the tumultuous rollercoaster that was Eartha Kitt’s life story. Born on a South Carolina cotton plantation in 1927, Kitt only found out her birth date when she was 71, and the identity of her father, speculated to be the white son of the plantation owner, was withheld from her until her death. Rejected by her black step-father for her pale complexion and raised by an abusive aunt, she certainly made something out of nothing.
Kitt’s career began in 1943 as a dancer, but quickly became known for her unique voice and style. She became fluent in English, French, German and Dutch from years performing cabaret in Europe and in 1967 starred as Catwoman in the third season of Batman.
In 1968, Kitt famously made anti-war statements at a White House luncheon with Lyndon B Johnson. When asked by Lady Bird Johnson about the Vietnam War, she replied “You send the best of this country off to be shot and maimed … There are so many things burning the people of this country, particularly mothers … We raise children and send them to war.”
Mrs. Johnson burst into tears. Kitt was branded a ‘sadistic nymphomaniac’ by the CIA and blacklisted with a false defamatory dossier. Like many politically active public figures at the time, Kitt had been under CIA surveillance since 1956.
Her career in the US was derailed for over a decade, until she returned in 1983 with Where Is My Man, first released as a wildly successful single in France. , I first encountered her unique voice, far smokier than on Santa Baby thirty years previous, in this Horse Meat Disco Boiler Room full of disco gems. It was produced by Village People creators Fred Zarr and Jaques and co-written by a comedy writer, but is far more sultry than ridiculous.
It seems too easy to superimpose that Kitt’s difficult history might play into the demands for a pampering and protective man. She was far too fiery for that.