Revella Eudosia Hughes was one of the most successful sopranos of the first half of the 20th century. She was also a musician and recording artist whose repertoire ranged from classical to jazz.
Hughes was born on July 27, 1895, to George and Anna Hughes. By the age of five, she was playing the piano. She completed a course Hartshorn Memorial College in Richmond, Virginia and received a certificate. Hughes graduated from Oberlin High School in 1915. While in high school, she sang with the girls’ choir. She also played the violin and composed a rally song for the school.
After high school, Hughes attended Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she studied piano and voice. She received her music degree in 1917 and stayed on in Washington to teach at the Washington Conservatory of Music for a year.
Hughes moved to South Carolina and became the director of music at Orangeburg State College. By 1920, Miss Hughes was in New York, studying voice under George Bagby. During this period she developed her repertoire and appeared with such artists as Paul Robeson, Roland Hayes, and Marian Anderson. She performed for numerous events including the New York City Police Department Band Banquet in 1922 and recorded on W.C. Handy’s Black Swan record label.
Hughes retired from performing in 1955. She died in New York City on October 24, 1987, at the age of ninety-one years.