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Monday, 31 December 2012

Evelyn Knight born 31 December 1917

Evelyn Knight (b. December 31, 1917, Reedville, Virginia – d. September 28, 2007, San Jose, California) was a popular American singer of the 1940s and 1950s, best remembered for her 1949 smash "Powder Your Face with Sunshine."

Born as Evelyn Davis, she began her career in high school when she would sing at Washington D.C.'s Station WRC as “Honey Davis” twice a week over NBC for $16 a broadcast. After high school she started singing in such high-end
Washington D.C. supper clubs as The Claridge Hotel and was known as the "lass with the delicate air." At the age of 18, she married Andrew B. Knight, a war photographer for the Washington Post, and became professionally known as Evelyn Knight.

After many successful years in Washington she moved to New York City where she began headlining at such Manhattan nightclubs as The Blue Angel and the Plaza Hotel's Persian Room. She launched her recording career in 1945 by signing with Decca records, and moved to Los Angeles in the late 1940s where she headlined frequently at the celebrity-studded Ciro's and Coconut Grove.

Upon signing to Decca in 1945, she scored her first Top Ten hit with her debut single, "Dance with a Dolly (With a Hole in Her Stocking)." Her follow-up, "Chickery Chick," proved another chart blockbuster, but from there Knight's career went into free fall, with singles like "My Fickle Eye" and "Passé" barely registering at radio and retail. In late 1948 Knight entered the studio with backing vocalists the Stardusters to cover Paula Watson's hit "A Little Bird Told Me" -- her rendition spent much of the spring of 1949 atop the pop charts, selling in excess of two million copies.


Watson's label, Supreme Records, nevertheless filed suit with Decca, claiming Knight's arrangement was lifted wholesale from the original -- a judge dismissed the suit, but the singer's follow-up, "Buttons and Bows," was nevertheless a sharp contrast with Dinah Shore's signature version, with an elegance and tranquility absent from Shore's rendition. Knight's biggest hit, "Powder Your Face with Sunshine," was her second number one and spent some five months on the charts -- she closed out 1949 with the two-sided hit "It's Too Late Now"/"You're So Understanding," both of which nearly cracked the Top 20. Knight entered 1950 with a cover of Mindy Carson's "Candy and Cake," teaming with the Ray Charles Singers for the follow-up, "All Dressed Up to Smile." She made her last chart appearance a year later with "My Heart Cries for You," a duet with country star Red Foley.
She was among the pioneers of early television with several appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Colgate Comedy Hour and a 1951 TV appearance with Abbott & Costello.

Evelyn was a staple all over the country on the popular "supper club" circuit of the day. She performed for President Truman at the White House, and played to audiences around the world, but by the mid 50's she gradually receeded from view. Before her 37th birthday, Miss Knight retired and never performed in public again.

In the 1950s, Miss Knight returned to New York and worked in the music publishing business for several years. When she was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1961, she was not told. She worked as an office manager and babysitter, and her only singing came in church choirs. Almost no one she met knew a thing about her glamorous past.

Divorced from Knight she married Johnny Lehmann, a songwriter with top ten hits of his own, in 1951. Her son, Andrew Knight Jr. (b. 1940 - d. 1989) became a well-regarded concert tour lighting technician in the seventies working with The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and The Who, among others. Her second child, Fran (b. 1954) grew up to enjoy a top-rated career on Los Angeles and San Francisco radio from 1970 to
2003. She is also survived by her three grandchildren, Saira McGan (an officer in the United States Air Force), Jesse Knight (real estate entrepreneur), and Jake Knight (musician, blogger/writer, and network engineer).

Evelyn and her family moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1969 where she lived until 2007 in obscurity, even after her early hits were reissued on compact disc. Following a decline in health in 2007, she moved to San Jose, California to live with her daughter. She died quietly on the morning of September 28, 2007, aged 89, from lung cancer. (Info edited from Wahingtom Post & All Music & Wikipedia)

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