Cabella Calloway Langsam (October 11, 1952 – May 17, 2023)

October 14, 2023

The youngest daughter of Nuffie and Cab Calloway, Cabella Catherine Calloway Langsam was born in New York’s Madison Avenue Hospital while Cab was on tour in London with Porgy and Bess. A vibrant child, Cabella grew up in White Plains with her older sisters Chris and Cecelia. She was an honors student at Marymount High School, a private Catholic high school for girls in Tarrytown, NY. Cabella was the freshman class president at Cazenovia Junior College before leaving to pursue her first calling, to be a professional ballet dancer.

Cabella trained with the Dance Theater of Harlem, before being selected by George Balanchine to join his school in Paris. After Cab said “No” to Paris, she joined the Hartford Ballet company and lived with prima ballerina Judith Gosnell. In 1973, she and her childhood sweetheart, Andrew Langsam, were married at her parents’ home in White Plains, NY. While raising two children, Caleb and Joshua, Cabella graduated from Tennessee State University, and moved to Delaware where she had an extensive professional career with Xerox, Hewlett-Packard, and Maryland Bank of North America (MBNA).

Cabella directed the legal battle to recover and protect her famous father’s historic intellectual property and the family’s legacy. She helped to create the highly successful magnet school, Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington, Delaware. She was founding member and chair of the Cab Calloway School Fund, an innovative non-profit set up to give underprivileged children a level educational playing field by providing them with financial support. She was also the founding member of Creative Arts by Calloway, LLC, and Chair of the Cab Calloway Foundation. Cabella’s vision played a significant role in establishing key partnerships with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, The Grammys, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, all to preserve and honor Cab’s cultural legacy.

One project she was passionate about was Vocal Clave de Sol in Havana, Cuba, a music program that helps children in a country that she loved dearly. In 2017, she helped bring a group of girls from that program to the United States to share their music and Cuban culture at the Lady Bug Festival and other venues. The girls each returned to Cuba with a new Martin guitar provided by the Cab Calloway Foundation.

Cabella was the loving primary caregiver to both her parents and her older sister Chris, at the end of their lives. She spent her last years with her husband and Chihuahuas living in Santa Fe, New Mexico and then in Portland, Oregon.

Cabella illuminated our world and has left us with a bright light that will shine for generations to come. All the children whose lives she touched will go on to share her light with many others.

We will miss her smile and her captivating joy. We will miss her passion and her radiance. We will miss having her in our midst.

Cabella is survived by her husband, Andrew Langsam, two sons, Caleb and Joshua, and three Chihuahuas, Xena, Chloe, and Jack.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Cab Calloway Foundation: