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Friday, 28 November 2014

Ethel Ennis born 28 November 1932

Ethel Llewellyn Ennis (born November 28, 1932, in Baltimore, Maryland) is an American jazz musician and a national treasure. Critics have hailed her as “the most accomplished singer performing today.” That stature was earned by her magnificent voice, her brilliant compositions, her joyful performances and her collaboration with the finest musicians.

Ethel Ennis began performing on the piano in high school, but her natural vocal abilities soon eclipsed those as a pianist. Embarking on a solo career, she recorded a number of sides for Atlantic Records before the Lp debut, 1955's Lullabies for Losers was released by Jubilee Records. In 1957, Ennis moved to the Capitol Records label for a two-album contract, and A Change of Scenery was released. Soon after the 1958 follow-up Lp Have You Forgotten, Ennis took a six-year hiatus from recording during which she toured Europe with Benny Goodman.
        (Here's Ethel's first 1957Atco single of "A Pair Of Fools") 
 Later, she was chosen as a featured singer on the Arthur Godfrey Show. After performing at the 1964 Newport Jazz Festival with Billy Taylor, Cozy Cole, and Slam Stewart, she appeared with Duke Ellington and his Orchestra on television's “Bell Telephone Hour.”

She followed those amazing achievements by wowing them at the Monterey Jazz Festival in duets with Joe Williams. She returned to her hometown to perform in concerts with the Count Basie Band and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. During that same period, she shared the bill with Cab Calloway at Harlem's Apollo Theater and played supper clubs and concert halls all over the country.

Ennis was again invited to the recording studios in 1963, recording four LPs for RCA Records. However, disenchanted with the creative direction of the label and artist management, Ennis left RCA and took another hiatus, this time eight years without a recording contract. During this period she sang the title song for the 1967 feature film Mad Monster Party. The BASF Lp 10 Sides of Ethel Ennis emerged in 1973 and later that year Ennis, a Democrat, was invited to sing at the re-inauguration of Richard Nixon. Ethel's unusual a cappella rendition of the national anthem shocked some, but inspired many others. She performed at the White House for Jimmy Carter as well. During the period, she became Baltimore's cultural ambassador, singing Chinese folk songs in Baltimore's sister city of Xiamen, China as well as performing in Rotterdam, Germany.

In the 1980's, Ethel opened her own music club, Ethel's Place with her husband, writer Earl Arnett. They presented the world's greatest jazz musicians and broadcast live concerts to national audiences. They sold the club in 1988, each returning full-time to their artistic pursuits.

Earlier on, Ethel had returned to her hometown of Baltimore, and sang outside the area only a handful of times in the next several decades. Then in 1980 to the delight of loyal fans she reappeared, releasing a live album, followed in 1994 by a self-titled studio album, and in 1998 once again recording for a major label with If Women Ruled the World on Savoy Jazz. The most recent Ennis recording was a critically praised 2005 live set, captured in performance at Montpelier in her home state of Maryland.

Frank Sinatra once described her as, “my kind of singer.” A Downbeat reviewer once said of Ethel, “her voice runs deep, exuding the personality of a sage who has lived many lives.” She is the great sage of jazz and if you can find any one of her two dozen records and singles, you will have added a national treasure to your collection.

Ethel Ennis continues to be her own woman, residing in Baltimore with what she proudly calls a “real life.” Ennis is active in her craft, performing with a voice which remains remarkably fresh, despite the passing decades.(Info edited from All About Jazz & Wikipedia)

(The Song Is Called I Got The Right To Sing The Blues
Featuring Benny Goodman On Clarinet. Vocalist Ethel Ennis. Billy Hodges, Taft Jordan, John Frosk, E.v. Perry On Trumpets. Vernon Brown, Willie Dennis, Rex Peer On Trombones. Zoot Sims, Al Block, Ernie Mauro, Seldon Powel, Gene Allen On Saxophones. Roland Hanna On Piano. Billy Bauer On Guitar. Arvell Shaw On Bass. Roy Burnes On Drums. Recorded In Brussels May 1958)

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Eddie Boyd born 25 November 1914

Edward Riley Boyd known as Eddie Boyd (November 25, 1914–July 13, 1994) was a blues piano player born on Stovall's
Plantation near Clarksdale, Mississippi, where Muddy Waters also lived.
As a youth, he taught himself how to play piano and guitar, and he worked the jukes joints in and around the Mississippi delta and then moved to Memphis in 1936. In Memphis he often played on Beale Street with his band the Dixie Rhythm Boys. Hoping to record, Boyd followed the great migration northward to the factories of Chicago in 1941. Boyd was a stellar lyricist who sang with a suave, sometimes jazzy delivery, and his piano playing was the perfect accompaniment to his singing. A sparse and rhythmic left hand allowed room for a jabbing and twinkling right which never played more than was needed.

He won himself a place among the popular blues musicians of the day, people like Big Bill Broonzy, John Lee 'Sonny Boy' Williamson and Memphis Slim, accompanied Sonny Boy ('the first' from 1941 until 1946, and made recordings with him. Jazz Gillum and other artists attached to the Victor and Bluebird labels.

In April 1947 he cut his first record on his own, as 'Little Eddie Boyd and his Boogie Band'. His real fame as a solo performer started a few years later, in 1952, when he recorded the first version of his 'Five Long Years', the song which has since then become his trademark. From 1953 until early 1957 he was under contract with the Chess label -the name which epitomizes the Chicago blues style of the fifties as Bluebird did for the previous decade.
After a very serious automobile accident in that year Boyd drifted back into obscurity. But then, in the sixties, the blues was discovered by a new and bigger than ever public, especially in Europe, and he could have his share in this revived interest. In 1965 he come to Europe with the American Folk Blues Festival tour In London he made his first long-playing record 'Five Long Years', and after the tour he decided to stay for a while in Europe, following the example set by other blues pianists like Memphis Slim, Champion Jack Dupree and Curtis Jones.

Tired of the racial discrimination he experienced in the United States, he first moved to Belgium, and then settled in Finland in 1970. He recorded ten blues records in Finland, the first being Praise to Helsinki (1970). He married his wife, Leila, in 1977. His last blues gig took place in 1984. After that he performed only gospel.

Boyd underwent heart surgery for replacement of a defective valve in 1980.  His last record was a cassette of religious music in 1993.  Eddie Boyd died in Melilahti Hospital, Helsinki, Finland, on July 13, 1994 (info mainly Wikipedia)

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Gloria Lynne born 23 November 1931

Gloria Lynne (born Gloria Wilson; November 23, 1929 – October 15, 2013), also known as Gloria Alleyne, was an American jazz vocalist with a recording career spanning from 1958 to 2007. She grew up in Harlem; her mother, Mary, was a gospel singer. 

Lynne was born in Harlem in 1929 to John and Mary Wilson.  As a young girl, Lynne sang with the local African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church Choir. At the age of 15, she won first prize at the "Amateur Night" at the Apollo Theatre. She shared the stage with contemporary night club vocal ensembles as well as with Ella Fitzgerald, recording as part of such groups as the Enchanters and the Dell-Tones in the 1950s. She recorded as a soloist under her birth name, though most of her work was released under her stage name on the Everest and Fontana labels. She was signed to Everest in 1958. 
Although showing much promise early on, especially after TV appearances, including the Harry Belafonte Spectacular, her development suffered through poor management: some unscrupulous recording 'executives' profited while she was left virtually penniless, saved by the fact that she was able to work steadily and earn her money from performances—a victim of unpaid royalties. Her roller coaster ride in the record industry is well-documented in her memoir “I Wish You Love,” co-authored with Karen Chilton (Douherty, Tom Associates, 2000).

In the 1960s she had several hits including "June Night", "Love I Found You", "I'm Glad There Is You", "I Wish You Love" (1964)—which became her signature song—and her answer to Gene McDaniels's "Tower of Strength", "(You don't have to be a) Tower Of Strength", a pop hit that proved how versatile she could be in the studio. After her time with Everest Records she moved to Fontana and recorded such albums as Soul Serenade, Love And A Woman, Where It's At, and Here, There And Everywhere, demonstrating her versatility in jazz, RnB, soul and melodic "pop". During her earlier years on-the-road Gloria Lynne shared bills with some of the well known names of RnB, jazz, pop and standards including Ray Charles, Billy Eckstine, Johnny Mathis and Ella Fitzgerald. TV specials include two with Harry Belafonte and duets with Billy Eckstine. As Lynne moved into jazz in her later career she performed with many jazz musicians, including Quincy Jones, Bobby Timmons, Philly Joe Jones, Harry "Sweets" Edison.

She wrote lyrics for “Watermelon Man” with Herbie Hancock, and “All Day Long” with Kenny Burrell. New York City proclaimed July 25, 1995 as Gloria Lynne Day. In 1996 Lynne received the International Women of Jazz Award and she was honoured with a Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 1997. Other awards and recognitions include the National Treasure Award from the Seasoned Citizens Theatre Company (2003); induction into the National Black Sports and Entertainment Hall of Fame; Living Legend Award from the State of Pennsylvania (2007). 

On May 6, 2008, Lynne was presented with a special award for Outstanding Achievement In Jazz at the New York MAC Awards. On October 22, 2010, she was honoured at New York's Schomburg Library by Great Women In Music founder Roz Nixon for her many contributions to the music industry and the world.

She and her husband, Harry Alleyne, had a son, Richard. Gloria and Richard Alleyne (AKA P.J.Allen) ran a production company, Family Bread Music Inc. Gloria and Harry Alleyne divorced in 1968.

                (Late photo of P.J. with Gloria and Brian Scott

She died of a heart attack on October 15, 2013 at The Columbus Rehabilitation Center, Newark, New Jersey. She was 83. Still grieving, her son P.J. died just 1 year and 14 days after his mother, October 29, 2014. (Info edited mainly from Wikipedia)

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Chick Henderson born 22 November 1912

Chick Henderson (November 22, 1912—June 24, 1944) was an English singer who achieved popularity and acclaim as a prolific recording artist and performer with dance bands during the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Chick Henderson was born Henderson Rowntree in West Hartlepool, England. As a boy he loved to sing and was an active member of a church choir. He was heard by Harry Leader and given an audition, who immediately signed him up in 1935. Chick started recording with the band in 1935 and made three records on the Eclipse Label. His first recording was ‘Zing Went the Strings of My Heart’, matrix 2544-1, on 15th June 1935, and released on Eclipse 1011. Chick made his first broadcast on the BBC in August 1935. Chick joined the Joe Loss Band in September 1935 after having been heard on radio. He cut the first Joe Loss records on 22nd October 1935 in the London HMV studios, ‘Wyoming in the Gloaming’, OEA-1998-1, and ‘The General’s Fast Asleep’, OEA-2000-1. Chick and Joe Loss went on to record over 250 tracks.

Even though Chick was the principal singer for Joe Loss, he continued to make records on Columbia and Regal Zonophone with Harry Leader. The mid 1930’s is a period which is difficult for record collectors and historians. Columbia used the name Harry Leader but Regal Zonophone released Harry Leader discs under a number of aliases such as Wally Bishop, International Novelty Orchestra, and Mel Rose. To complicate things further these sides were released in Australia under all these names and also as The Rhythmic Troubadours on RZ. Some Joe Loss tracks also used these aliases.
In October 1936, Joe Loss contracted to RZ. Their first RZ record was ‘When Did You Leave Heaven’ and ‘You’ve Got To Blow Your Own Trumpet’.
From all accounts Chick Henderson was a shy and modest person who loved to spend quiet weekends with his family and friends, but at least once a month he was in the recording studio with Joe Loss, usually putting down about four numbers each session. Very few recordings required more than one take.
In July 1937 he made his first solo recording ‘Greatest Mistake Of My Life’ and ‘Broken Hearted Clown’. He had only accordion and piano as accompaniment. It was not until November 1937 that his other solo disc was recorded on RZ, and it was the only time that the label credit reversed the order, Chick Henderson with Joe Loss. His best seller was ‘Begin The Beguine’ of 5/7/1939, but he made a large number very highly regarded discs. Chick received £4 for the recording session, while Joe Loss picked up a gold disc!

In 1940 Chick recorded eight tracks with Harry Roy, three with Organ Dance Band & Me, and four with London Piano Accordion Band. His last recording session was in 1942 in Glasgow with Joe Loss.

Less than a year following the start of World War II in September 1939, he began serving in the Merchant Navy. He survived two torpedo attacks on his ships, but after four years of service, sustained fatal wounds in Southsea from flying bomb shrapnel. Chick Henderson was 31 years old. A Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, on strength of HMS Victory at time of his death, he was buried in Haslar Royal Naval Cemetery under his real name.

After a recording career of only seven years, Chick made about 280 tracks although his name is not on the majority of labels. He made 19 with Harry Leader, and 242 (247?) with Joe Loss, plus 2 with instrumental accompaniment. Some of his recordings were not released in Australia in 78 rpm format. Strangely it took many years before EMI started to release compilations on LP and Cassette.

(Info mainly edited from a short article written by Doug Hamilton 17 Jan 2000)

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Jimmy Lewis born 19 November 1939

Jimmy Lewis (19 November, 1937* - 10 September  2004) was a United States soul musician, songwriter and producer whose songs include "Message to the Ladies", "That Won't Stop Me from

Loving You," and "I Can't Leave You Alone". He has worked with Ray Charles and written songs for Z. Z. Hill.  He was in the 1960s' line-up of Bill Pinkney's "Original Drifters". (*other sources give 25 November & 11 April 1937 as date of birth)

James E. Lewis was born in the tiny delta town of Itta Bena near Greenwood, Mississippi but spent most of his life in Los Angeles. For someone whose sound is so steeped in the gospel tradition, it comes as quite a surprise that his introduction to music came not through the church, but through a friend who ran a car club in LA! Somewhere along the line he hooked-up with his first writing partner, Clifford Chambers. They worked together right through the 60s and together with James Carmichael (later to find fame as producer of the Commodores, the Jackson 5 and Lionel Richie) they produced a small string of 45s, the first being ‘Goodbye Sorrow’on Cyclone Records in 1962. A year later there were three releases for J J Jones’ Four “J” record label.

One track ‘Wait Until Spring’ was picked-up for wider distribution, over a year later, by Era Records and did quite well. It was obvious from these fine, but generally derivative recordings that Little Richard, Ray Charles and long-time hero Sam Cooke were the influences on Lewis’ music. It was also apparent that here was a lyricist who held great promise

A second Era release, the rated mover, ‘What Can I Do Now’ further cemented his progress and his voice caught the ear of Bill Pinkney, one of the original Drifters, (who at that time also included, Gerhart Thrasher, Bobby Hollis and Bobby Hendricks), and Lewis joined the group replacing Hendricks as lead singer from 1963-65. He was also to appear with one of the many Drifters conglomerates in the mid 70s. 

Later in the 60s, he teamed up with Ray Charles to record a duet, ‘If It Wasn’t For Bad Luck’. Lewis’ relationship with Charles was very successful and in 1969 he was co-composer and arranger for Charles’ Grammy Award-nominated Doing His Thing.

Although Lewis recorded as a raw and emotional soul singer, he is best remembered as a writer of soul lyrics, collaborating with Clifford Chambers, Arthur Adams, Frank O. Johnson, Raymond Jackson and Rich Cason among several composers. Artists who have sung his songs,often on record, are Bobby Bland, Solomon Burke, Ry Cooder, Rita Coolidge, Leon Haywood, Z.Z. Hill, Albert King, Latimore, Denise La Salle, Frankie Lee, Little Richard, Johnnie Taylor, Ted Taylor, and Bobby Womack.

Among songs in Lewis’ repertoire, many of which are his own compositions, are ‘No Chicken Wings’, ‘String Bean’, ‘Stop Half Loving These Women’, ‘I’m Just Doing To You (What You Done To Me)’, ‘Help Me Understand You’, ‘The Love Doctor’, ‘How Long Is A Heartache Supposed To Last’, ‘It Ain’t What’s On The Woman’, ‘Betty This And Betty That’, ‘Still Wanna Be Black Again’, ‘Don’t Send A Girl To Do A Woman’s Job’, ‘Wife #1, Wife #2’ and ‘That Baby Ain’t Black Enough’.

In the early 90s, Lewis started his own label, Miss Butch Records, on which he recorded Peggy Scott-Adams, ‘I’m Willing To Be A Friend’ and ‘Bill’, and Chuck Strong, as well as himself through into the year before his death.

Initially diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas in the Nineties, the disease had spread to his liver. Jimmy died at his home in Los Angeles, California on 10 September 2004.
(Info edited mainly from The Encyclopedia of Popular Music & Ace CD liner notes & Rock Obituaries)

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Dorothy Collins born 18 November 1926

Dorothy Collins (November 18, 1926 – July 21, 1994) was a popular American singer, actress, and recording artist. She was born Marjorie Chandler in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and adopted her stage name in her mid-teens.

As a youngster, Collins sang on radio stations in Windsor and Detroit. In 1940, at age 14, she and her family were introduced to bandleader/composer Raymond Scott in Chicago. Shortly thereafter, she became Scott's protégée. In early 1942, at age 15, she became a featured vocalist with Scott's orchestra, performing on radio and on tour. Scott groomed her for stardom, which included coaching her vocals (pitch, phrasing, and delivery) and mentoring her performance skills. 

In the late 1940s, she contributed vocals to the revived Raymond Scott Quintet, a sextet that released records on the bandleader's own Master label and served as house band on the radio program Herb Shriner Time. In 1949, after Scott was hired to conduct the orchestra on the popular CBS radio program, Lucky Strike's Your Hit Parade, Collins was trained by Scott to lead his sextet on tour in his


In 1950, Your Hit Parade moved to NBC television, with Scott retained as conductor. Shortly thereafter, at Scott's urging, Collins auditioned for a vocalist slot and was hired. She shot to nationwide fame as one of the show's featured vocalists, singing—and acting in costume—in sketches dramatizing popular songs of the day.

Collins often appeared as spokeswoman/vocalist in Lucky Strike cigarette commercials during the program and on their other sponsored series (including the Jack Benny radio show) via transcription disc, earning the title, "The Sweetheart of Lucky Strike." After her absence from Your Hit Parade during the 1957-58 season (a new cast of singers replaced Collins and her fellow vocalists), Collins returned for the series' final season on CBS ending in April 1959.

Her additional TV credits include The Steve Allen Show, the Bell Telephone Hour, The Hollywood Palace, and Candid Camera, as both a participant in the stunts and co-host with Allen Funt.

n 1955, her single "My Boy - Flat Top," reached #16 on the Billboard charts. A follow-up single, "Baciare Baciare (Kissing Kissing)," peaked at #43. She recorded other singles and albums in the 1950s, with little chart success.

 Collins sang a collection of educational tunes on an album entitled Experiment Songs, one of six albums in a set called Singing Science Records produced in the 1950s and '60s by Hy Zaret and Lou Singer.

In the summer of 1957 she played Dorothy Gale in The Municipal Opera Association of St. Louis production of The Wizard of Oz,alongside Margaret Hamilton reprising her movie role of the Wicked Witch of the West. Collins was lead in The Saint Paul Civic Opera Association's presentation of "The Unsinkable Molly Brown".

In 1971, Collins made her Broadway debut in Stephen Sondheim's Follies, portraying Sally Durant Plummer, a one-time Ziegfeld-style showgirl trapped in a disappointing marriage. Her dramatic rendition of the song "Losing My Mind" routinely stopped the show and was one of the production's highlights. Her performance earned a Tony Award nomination as Best Actress in a Musical, but she lost to co-star, fellow Canadian-born actress Alexis Smith. When the production opened in Los Angeles in 1972, Collins reprised the role of Sally.

Dorothy was also active for many years in the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and became a vice president of the organization in 1988. 

Collins was married to Raymond Scott from 1952 until their divorce in 1965. They had two daughters, Deborah and Elizabeth. In 1966, she married actor/singer Ron Holgate, with whom she had a daughter, Melissa. The two eventually divorced.

She died from respiratory distress as a result of a long-standing pulmonary disease (asthma) at her home in upstate Watervliet, New York, July 21, 1994 and was survived by her three daughters.(Info from Wikipedia)

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Troy Seals born 16 November 1938

Troy Harold Seals (born November 16, 1938 in Bighill, Madison County, Kentucky) is an American singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He is a member of the prominent Seals family of musicians that includes, Jim Seals (of Seals and Crofts) and Dan Seals (of England Dan & John Ford Coley) and Brady Seals (Little Texas and Hot Apple Pie). 

Troy learned guitar in his teens and after his family moved to Hamilton, Ohio, he began performing on a country radio show. During the late 50’s Troy Seals & The Earthquakes played rock & roll and backed headliners such as Conway Twitty who became their mentor.

In 1964 Troy wed Jo Ann Campbell, to whom he is still married today. As Jo-Ann and Troy, they made a stunning debut single for Atlantic, "I Found A Love Oh What A Love" c/w "Who Do You Love" (the Bo Diddley song), which went to # 67 on the Hot 100 around the turn of the year 1964/65.They recorded over a dozen tracks for Atlantic in an R&B/soul style. Who Do You Love was successful enough that the duo became regulars on ‘Where the Action is’ in 1965. They also recorded a fantastic version of the Ashford/Simpson/Armstead tune, ‘Same Old Feeling’.

A few years later, Seals went on to play guitar in the Dapps, recording with none other than James Brown.

During the '70s, Seals recorded with Lonnie Mack and Doug Kershaw and although he made two albums of his own, he is best known as a songwriter. His compositions have been recorded by artists such as Nancy Sinatra, Randy Travis, Conway Twitty, Hank Williams Jr., Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Jerry Lee Lewis, George Jones "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes," that Troy co-wrote with Max D. Barnes.

His hit compositions include "Rattle the Windows" (Shenandoah), "I Won't Need You Anymore (Always & Forever)" (Randy Travis), "Don't Take It Away" (Conway Twitty), "From Seven Till Ten" (Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn), "Two Old Cats Like Us" (Hank Williams, Jr.), "Pieces of My Life" (Elvis Presley), and "Boogie Woogie Country Man" (Jerry Lee Lewis).

Seals has played guitar on numerous sessions for recording stars and has collaborated on compositions with Waylon Jennings, Vince Gill, Will Jennings and others. He has had three co-written compositions nominated for the Country Music Association "Song of the Year" award: "Seven Spanish Angels" (1985), "Lost in the Fifties Tonight" (1986), and "If You Ever Have Forever In Mind" (1999).

           (Photo of Connie Brady, Troy Seals and John Briggs)
In recognition of his successful career, Seals was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

(Info edited mainly from Wikipedia & All Music)