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Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Nellie Lutcher born 15 October 1915

Nellie Lutcher (October 15, 1912 - June 8, 2007) was an African-American R&B and jazz singer and pianist, who achieved prominence in the late 1940s and early 1950s. She was most recognizable for her distinctive voice, particularly her phrasing and exaggerated pronunciation, and was credited as an influence by Nina Simone among others.

She was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, the eldest daughter of the 15 children of Isaac and Suzie Lutcher. Her father was a bass player, and her mother a church organist. She received piano lessons, and her father formed a family band with Nellie playing piano. At age 12 she played with Ma Rainey, when Rainey's regular pianist fell ill and had to be left behind in the previous town. Searching for a temporary replacement in Lake Charles, one of the neighbours told her there was a little girl who played in church who might be able to do it.

Aged 14, Lutcher joined her father in Clarence Hart's Imperial Jazz Band, and in her mid-teens also briefly married the band's trumpet player. In 1933, she joined the Southern Rhythm Boys, writing their arrangements and touring widely. In 1935 she moved to Los Angeles, where she married Leonel Lewis and had a son. She began to play swing piano, and also to sing, in small combos throughout the area, and began developing her own style, influenced by Earl Hines, Duke Ellington and her friend Nat "King" Cole.

She was not widely known until 1947 when she learned of the March of Dimes talent show at Hollywood High School, and performed. The show was broadcast on radio and her performance caught the ear of Dave Dexter, a scout for Capitol Records. She was signed by Capitol and made several records, including "The One I Love Belongs To Someone Else" and her first hit single, the risqué "Hurry On Down", which went to # 2 on the rhythm and blues chart. This was followed by her equally successful composition "He's A Real Gone Guy", which also made # 2 on the R&B chart and crossed over to the pop charts where it reached # 15.

 In 1948 she had a string of further R&B chart hits, the most successful being "Fine Brown Frame", her third # 2 R&B hit. Her songs charted on the pop, jazz, and R&B charts, she toured widely and became widely known. She wrote many of her own songs and, unlike many other African-American artists of the period, retained the valuable publishing rights to them.

In 1950, Lutcher duetted with Nat "King" Cole on "For You My Love" and "Can I Come in for a Second". The same year, her records began to be released in the UK and were actively promoted by radio DJ Jack Jackson. She headlined a UK variety tour, compered by Jackson, with great success, later returning there to tour on her own.

With an orchestra for the first time, Lutcher recorded "The Birth of the Blues" and "I Want to Be Near You" in 1951, but she was losing her appeal with the record-buying public and Capitol dropped her the following year. She went on to record, much less successfully, for other labels including Okeh, Decca and Liberty, and gradually wound down her performance schedule.

Unfortunately her popularity with the record buying public lasted only for 4 years (during which she recorded duets with Nat Cole among others) and her entire recording career a mere 10. In 1957 she retired from both recording and only rarely performed pursuing a career in real estate instead and serving as a director for the Musician’s Union.

  She died of pneumonia at age 95 on June 8th 2007 in Los Angeles.

She was the sister of saxophonist Joe "Woodman" Lutcher and aunt of Latin jazz percussionist Daryl "Munyungo" Jackson. (info mainly Wikipedia)


boppinbob said...

Phew that was hard work. Took me ages going in and out of HTML edit. Must be an easier way surely!

boppinbob said...

For Nellie Lutcher And Her Rhythm. Disc 1 go here:

01. The One I Love (Belongs To Somebody Else) / 1948
02. Hurry On Down / 1947
03. The Lady's In Love With You / 1947
04. You Better Watch Yourself, Bub / 1947
05. Sleepy Lagoon / 1947
06. My Mother's Eyes / 1947
07. He's A Real Gone Guy / 1947
08. Let Me Love You Tonight / 1947
09. Pig Latin Song / 1948
10. Do You Or Don't You Love Me / 1947
11. Chi Chi Chi Chicago / 1948
12. Loveable / 1950
13. Fine And Mellow Blues / 1949
14. There's Another Mule In Your Stall / 1948
15. I Thought About You / 1948
16. Kinda Blue And Low / 1950
17. Reaching For The Moon / 1948
18. The Song Is Ended (But The Melody Lingers On) / 1947
19. So Nice To See You Baby / 1950
20. Lake Charles Boogie / 1948
21. Fine Brown Frame / 1948
22. Humoresque (Opus #7) / 1951
23. Imagine You Having Eyes For Me / 1948
24. Alexander's Ragtime Band / 1948

Colonel Dan said...

Just Another Tip Of The Hat To A Great Post & A Wonderful Site!
Keep Up The Great Work!
All The Best,
Colonel Dan