Obscure & Neglected Female Singers Of Jazz & Standards (1930s to 1960s)

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Ridin'High, Sep 4, 2016.

  1. Ridin'High

    Ridin'High Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Not to sound like a dictator, but I'm hoping that we try our best to post more than names, which will ultimately be meaningless to anyone who doesn't know these singers. Besides having fun, the common goal should be to make all these singers better remembered, even if for infamous reasons! :)
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  2. dmiller458

    dmiller458 Forum Resident

    Midland, Michigan
    Reading IS fundamental.
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  3. the pope ondine

    the pope ondine Forum Resident

    I got nothing. but I love the old album covers, the old female jazz singers always come off very cool
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  4. John B Good

    John B Good Forum Hall Of Fame

    NS, Canada
    I suspect some members may not know how easy it is to link to a You Tube song by so and so. For that reason I sometimes check out You Tube when the post here doesn't make a link, and then post it here in the same thread.

    Here's a track by Janice Harper

    Me? I lost track of how to post pics when the Forum changed it's method for that, but am not shy about asking if someone else can post it.
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  5. Fender Relic

    Fender Relic Forum Resident

    Here's a few in writing...hope I'm not hunted down and punished for sharing these. It's a good thread,really. Hope you enjoy finding and hearing those listed.

    As already mentioned, Beverly Kenney. I have a promo copy of Like Yesterday LP Decca DL 8948. It's interesting enough that I'm seeking out her other records.

    Shelley Moore-For The First Time-Argo 4016

    Lucy Reed-The Singing Reed on Fantasy 3212

    Priscilla Paris-Priscilla Loves Billie-Happy Tiger 1002
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  6. Wally Swift

    Wally Swift Yo-Yoing where I will...

    Brooklyn New York
    I figured it's just as easy for someone to go to Youtube and search a clip or two as it is for me to post a clip myself plus it uses less bandwidth.
    bluejimbop likes this.
  7. dance_hall_keeper

    dance_hall_keeper Forum Resident

    I offer Canada's own Gisèle MacKenzie (b. Gisèle Marie Louise Marguerite
    LaFlèche), known for being a regular on the U.S. television show Your Hit

    "Walking My Baby Back Home" - Gisèle MacKenzie.
  8. Chazzbo13

    Chazzbo13 Forum Resident

    Somerset, PA
    Here's another vote for Helen Humes...always loved this song with the Count
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  9. Bob F

    Bob F Senior Member

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  10. Ronald Sarbo

    Ronald Sarbo Forum Resident

    NY, NY, USA
    Beverly Kenney
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  11. Monsieur Gadbois

    Monsieur Gadbois Senior Member

    West Coast
    As many of you have already mentioned, Lee Wiley is one of the singers that are not well recognized today. I have many of her albums on RCA, but my favorite is "Night in Manhattan" on Columbia.

  12. John B Good

    John B Good Forum Hall Of Fame

    NS, Canada
    I like to check out these names.

    Loch Lomond popped up for Maxine Sullivan.

    I like this!
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  13. Ridin'High

    Ridin'High Forum Resident Thread Starter

    As a starting point for this thread, Ethel Waters is a great choice! Ethel has been called the mother of all vocalists who sing in the emotionally subtle style cultivated by, among others, Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra. Also, she is said to have been one of the earliest singers to consistently emphasize the lyric over the melody, and to take conscious care of matters such as phrasing and intonation.

    On the other side of the coin, she could sometimes come across as overemphatic and affected. Her r's, in particular, are quite rolled -- cute sometimes, too much other times. You hear a lot of Ethel Waters in Lena Horne, especially.

    The YouTube clip that you picked was also a good choice. (The upload above didn't play in my computer, but I went to YouTube and checked out another upload of "Careless Love" there.)

    Here we have Ethel, singing and acting in the movie Cabin in the Sky. Don't miss Eddie "Rochester" Anderson's comic hijinks and, starting around 2:30, Bill Bailey's fab dancing!

    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
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  14. .crystalised.

    .crystalised. Forum Resident

    I'm pleased that you mention Wanda Jackson, even if she does not qualify :)

    Question - where does Ella Mae Morse fit into the equation? She's generally credited with the earliest example of a rock 'n roll record, although she performed a lot of standards and sang with big bands.
  15. tomvox

    tomvox Forum Resident

    South Wales
    I'll put a claim in for Bertice Reading. This lady could sing anything from Rock to Blues via Gospel & Standards. Criminally underrepresented on CD I suspect many members will be saying who? She was discovered at the age of 3 by Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson, picked a Tony nomination for 'Requiem For A Nun' in 1957, played the female lead in the 1979 musical tribute to Lieber & Stoller 'Only In America' and had many successful one woman shows.

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  16. Ridin'High

    Ridin'High Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Ethel Waters sang many types of songs, some of them in a jazzy manner, others in a more theatrical mold. Most showing a combination of both. During her later years, she became very religious, and recorded albums of hymns and inspirational material.

    The following clip, consisting of two songs, shows quite a bit of stylistic variety from her, including a fair amount of comedic flair. But don't miss a quick appearance by 7-year-old Sammy Davis, Jr.!

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  17. .crystalised.

    .crystalised. Forum Resident

    Ruth Olay. A Dynamic, engaging vocalist with a unique vibrato and individual style. One of my favourites:

    "Slow But Sure"
  18. Ridin'High

    Ridin'High Forum Resident Thread Starter

    And here is one of my favorite recordings by Ethel Waters. Old but vigorous stuff ... hot jazz!

  19. .crystalised.

    .crystalised. Forum Resident

    Olay's televised performances are exciting. She has a captivating stage presence:

    "I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart"

    The growls and the trombone-like slides seem so effortless. She's great.
  20. Ridin'High

    Ridin'High Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I too enjoy her singing, and like her voice okay. But, whenever Helen's name turns up, what immediately comes to mind is the artwork for her albums.

    The first album's cover, which you posted, perfectly depicts the paradoxes of the titular Cole Porter song ("Down in the Depths of the 90th Floor"). I think of this artwork as a pictorial manifestation of film noir. I'm always expecting to see a body jumping out of those bright windows (and I suspect that it happens when I'm not looking).

    Then there is her second album's front photo, which must have been definitely inspired by film (From Here To Eternity):[​IMG]
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  21. John B Good

    John B Good Forum Hall Of Fame

    NS, Canada
    I recently acquired Ella Rocks, the Bear Family disk. Not a dud on it!
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  22. John B Good

    John B Good Forum Hall Of Fame

    NS, Canada
    Some years ago there was a selection on Amazon of imports from Japan. I got only one - Connie Boswell and the Memphis 5 in Hifi.

    I think she is perhaps one of the well-known singers, though not on the list.

    There was a whole series, maybe 6-7, of different ladies. Had never heard od any of them, but somewhat regret not picking up others.
  23. Ridin'High

    Ridin'High Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Well, we were just talking about Ethel Waters, and here we have now an admirer of hers. Della considered Ethel "her idol," and talks about her admiration at length here: Della Reese: My Idol Ethel Waters »

    Della and Ethel happened to share a very strong religious devotion -- Ethel more so during her later years, when she made various religious albums. Della, for her part, made them from the beginning of her career. (Her second or third album consists of spirituals. Ditto for her latest albums. She is an ordained minister.)

    Very different voices, though.

    That performance which you posted, "Don't You Know" was Della's biggest hit, peaking at #2 in Billboard. It was indeed included in the album The Classic Della, which consists of classical or operatic melodies set to pop lyrics.

    Della actually made over two dozen albums. My favorite might still be her first for RCA. Della's in-your-face, big and brassy version of "The Lady Is a Tramp" opens that album and is quite the showstopper. Don't skip the second half of her interpretation, that's the best part!

    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
  24. Ridin'High

    Ridin'High Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Ha. I bet quite a few gals have sneaked past me. Not this one, however! To me, Etta James was a great, wonderful singer ... but not a jazz singer, nor a classic pop singer. I consider her primarily a rhythm & blues singer. (She was marketed as such during the early years of her career.) That is why I did not include her in the list.

    I realize, however, that other listeners might disagree, especially if they take into consideration some of her albums from the 1960s. Etta's first two LPs for Argo contain three or four bona fide standards each. And the fourth, Etta James Sings For Lovers, is an album of standards.

    If we are to take into consideration the limits that I myself set up for this thread, those three albums would be valid reasons to include her in the list of celebrated jazz/classic pop female singers ... On the other hand, the songs that she recorded for the rest of her pre-1970 albums do not come from the jazz and standards songbooks.

    More to the point: her recordings of jazz and pop standards carry little of the style under discussion. The musicians who accompanied her reshape those numbers into r&b pieces, and she herself rephrases them into rhythm & blues wails. Even "At Last," which was originally a pop standard, sounds like a r&b piece. (Not that this is in itself a bad thing, mind you. In the particular case of "At Last," I think that the transformation is most definitely for the better!)

    In a nutshell: like Esther Phillips and a few others, I did not feel that the great Etta James belonged to the discussion that I was trying to set up.

    And there you have my long-winded response to your one sentence about Etta.

    Now, if we were to talk instead about the neglected Etta Jones, that would be an altogether different matter. There we have a jazz-oriented singer, on account of both her phrasing and her choice of musical accompaniment. Even when she wasn't doing numbers from the jazz and Great American songbooks, her approach tended to be jazzy:

    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
  25. Mylene

    Mylene Senior Member

    Early single on King records (Parlophone in the UK)

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