When you’re smilin’…

This music biography portrays the life of the legendary blues singer and songwriter Alberta Hunter (April 1, 1895 – October 17, 1984).

After 40 years of show business success, beginning in the 1920’s, Alberta became a nurse. Twenty years later, when the hospital thought she was 70, she was forced into retirement. Still anxious to do something with her life, she returned to singing and enjoyed an acclaimed comeback.

Hunter was born in Memphis, Tennessee, to Laura Peterson, who worked as a maid in a Memphis brothel, and Charles Hunter, a Pullman porter. Hunter said she never knew her father. She attended Grant Elementary School, off Auction Street, which she called Auction School, in Memphis. She attended school until around age 15.

Hunter began her singing career in a bordello and soon moved to clubs that appealed to men, black and white alike. By 1914 she was receiving lessons from a prominent jazz pianist, Tony Jackson, who helped her to expand her repertoire. Her career as singer and songwriter flourished in the 1920s and 1930s, and she appeared in clubs and on stage in musicals in both New York and London. The songs she wrote include the critically acclaimed “Downhearted Blues” (1922).

My Castle’s Rockin’ was recorded in 1988 (4×3 SD) as an original TV Movie and was a valiant attempt to overview Hunter’s dynamic life story.

The Washington Post called it “A vibrant documentary”. The Los Angeles Times wrote “An exhilarating, moving portrait of an extraordinary woman.”. TV Guide called it “Captivating!”.

1988 / 58 minutes / color and black and white / Written by Chris Albertson and narrated by the pianist Billy Taylor


Public Performance and Digital Site Licenses are available through Soundview Media Partners. To inquire or to place an order, write to info@soundviewmediapartners.com or simply choose from the options below:

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For group screening prices, please inquire.

In-home/personal use copies are available on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2TWnl8s

Watch the trailer