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Sunday, 29 March 2015

Pearl Bailey born 29 March 1918

Pearl Mae Bailey (March 29, 1918 – August 17, 1990) was an American actress and singer. An uninhibited vocalist who gave more to her performances than any other singers around, Pearl Bailey gained fame for her work in Broadway, cabaret, and Hollywood. Bailey's sultry, slurred delivery livened up many a stale standard, including "Baby It's Cold Outside" and her only hit, "Takes Two to Tango."

The daughter of a preacher, Bailey began singing at the age of three. She made her stage-singing debut when she was 15 years old. Her brother Bill Bailey was beginning his own career as a tap dancer, and suggested she enter an amateur contest at the Pearl Theatre in Philadelphia. She entered the amateur
song and dance contest and won and was offered $35 a week to perform there for two weeks but the theatre closed during her engagement and she wasn't paid. She later won a similar contest at Harlem’s famous Apollo Theater, and decided to pursue a career in entertainment.

She was performing professionally by her early teenage years and after touring as a dancer for several years, she featured both as a singer and dancer with jazz bands led by Noble Sissle, Cootie Williams, and Edgar Hayes. She began performing as a solo act in 1944, and wooed night
club audiences with her relaxed stage presence and humorous asides. After briefly replacing Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Cab Calloway's Orchestra during the mid-'40s, she debuted on Broadway during 1946 in the musical St. Louis Woman. Bailey earned an award for most promising newcomer, and made her first film, Variety Girl, in 1947.

Though it wasn't a hit, her version of "Tired" (from Variety Girl) increased her standing in the jazz community. She recorded for several different labels, including Columbia, during the '40s and finally found a hit in 1952 after signing to Coral. Her version of "Takes Two to Tango," backed by Don Redman's Orchestra, hit the Top Ten. That same year, she married drummer Louie Bellson, and he left his position with Duke Ellington to become her musical director.

Bailey recorded several albums for Coral during the early '50s, and starred as a fortune teller in the 1954 film Carmen Jones. Her rendition of "Beat Out That Rhythm on the Drum" is one of the highlights of the film. More starring roles followed, in the W.C. Handy biopic St. Louis Blues as well as the first filmed version of Gershwin's classic operetta Porgy and Bess.

In 1959, a new recording contract (with Roulette) resulted in a change of direction. After her double-entendre LP For Adults Only was banned from radio play, it became a big seller and occasioned a string of similar albums during the early '60s.

In 1967, Bailey and Cab Calloway headlined an all-black cast version of Hello, Dolly! The touring version was so successful, producer David Merrick took it to Broadway where it played to sold-out houses and revitalized the long running musical. Bailey was given a special Tony Award for her role and RCA made a second original cast album. That is the only recording of the score to have an overture which was written especially for that recording.

She led her own television variety show in 1971, but retired from active performance several years later. She returned to Broadway in 1975, playing the lead in an all-black production of Hello, Dolly! She earned a B.A. in theology from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in 1985, at age 67.
Pearl Bailey was named to the American delegation to the United Nations in 1976, and awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1988.

She died at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia on August 17, 1990 due to arteriosclerotic coronary artery disease. She is buried at Rolling Green Memorial Park in West Chester, Pennsylvania. (Info edited from Wikipedia & All Music)

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For Pearl Bailey – “For You My Love” go here:
1 Frankie and Johnny 3:07
2 Not Tonight 2:36
3 Johnson Rag 3:06
4 Saturday Night Fish Fry 2:58
5 Mamie Is Mimi 3:00
6 For You My Love 3:03
7 Nothing For Nothing 3:13
8 They Didn't Believe Me 2:36
9 There Must Be Something Better Than Love 2:41
10 Takes Two to Tango 2:56
11 Tess's Torch Song 2:40
12 He Didn't Ask Me 2:58
13 St. Louis Blues 2:13
14 Tired 3:20

For the LP “The Best of Pearl Bailey” (1961) go here:
(Thanks to Stax O’ Wax for original link)
Side 1:
1. Takes Two to Tango
2. That's Good Enough for Me
3. Row, Row, Row
4. Legalize My Name
5. Fifteen Years (And I'm Still Serving Time)
6. Old, Tired and Torn
Side 2:
1. St. Louis Blues
2. Tired
3. Ma (He's Making Eyes at Me)
4. Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive
5. Toot Toot Tootsie! (Goodbye)
6. Cherry's at the Top of the Tree