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Saturday, 3 December 2016

Connee Boswell born 3 December 1907


Constance Foore "Connee" Boswell (December 3, 1907 - October 11, 1976) was an American female vocalist born in Kansas City, Missouri but raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. With her sisters, Martha and Helvetia "Vet" Boswell, she performed in the 1930's as The Boswell Sisters and became a highly influential singing group during this period via recordings and radio. 
 
The Boswells came to be well known locally while still in their early teens, making appearances in New Orleans theaters and radio. They made their first recordings for Victor Records in 1925, which included "Cryin' Blues" where Connee is featured singing in the style of her early influence, the African American singer Mamie Smith. 

The Boswell Sisters became stage professionals that year when they were tapped to fill in for an act at New Orleans' Orpheum Theatre. They received an invitation to come to Chicago and perform in 1928 and honed their act on the Western Vaudeville Circuit. When their tour ended they travelled to San Francisco. The hotel that had been recommended had a less than savoury reputation, and the man at the desk suggested that these three young ladies might be better off in another hotel. That man, Harry Leedy, would later become their manager on a handshake and become a permanent part of Connee's life. 

The Boswell Sisters travelled to Los Angeles where they performed on local radio and "side-miked" for the soundies, including the 1930 production "Under Montana Skies." did not attain national attention, however, until they moved to New York City in 1930 and started making national radio broadcasts. After a few recordings with Okeh Records, they made numerous recordings for Brunswick Records from 1931-1935. In 1935, the sisters had a #1 hit with "The Object of My Affection", the biggest of twenty top 20 records they would enjoy.  
 
 

 

  In 1936, the group signed to Decca Records and after just three releases called it quits (the last recording was February 12, 1936). Connee Boswell continued to have a successful solo career as a singer for Decca. She had changed the spelling of her name from Connie to Connee, reputedly because it made it easier to sign autographs.

Connee sang from a wheelchair - or seated position - during her 
entire career, due to either a childhood bout with polio or a childhood accident (sources differ). The general public was not aware of her condition although Boswell herself did not keep this secret. During World War II, she tried to get involved with the U.S.O. but was not given permission to travel overseas, the "powers that be" apparently thought it might not be a morale-booster to have a "cripple" perform for the troops.  

Connee Boswell was a favorite duet partner of Bing Crosby and they frequently sang together on radio as well as recording several hit records as a duo in the 1930's and 1940's. Connee  also had several dozen solo hits, including "Moonlight Moon" in 1942. Boswell's career slackened in the 1950's but she still recorded occasionally and would be featured on a number of television broadcasts including a regular stint on the 1959 series "Pete Kelly's Blues". 

In 1954, Connee recorded her last charted hit, “If I Give My Heart to You.” The song was a smash hit for Kitty Kallen but Boswell’s version rose to the #10 spot in September, 1954, and spent 11 weeks on the charts. In April of 1956 Connee was back in Decca’s recording studios in NYC with Sy Oliver and His Orchestra. The subsequent recordings were issued as her second album, simply named “Connee.” This is her last recording session with Decca records, ending a twenty-five year collaboration that had yielded many hit recordings. 

In 1958 Connee unfortunately made her last album "Connee Boswell Sings The Rodgers & Hart Songbook" on the Design Record label. It is unfortunate that Verve never signed Connee as they did Ella Fitzgerald. Connee still had an amazing voice in the 1950s.

Connee moved on to more causes that are dear to her heart by the 1960s. She was on the board of an organization called, “Comeback, Inc,” whose focus is rehabilitation of the chronically ill, aged and handicapped. By 1962 she decided to limit her performances to some occasional television work and club dates and stays much closer to home to care for her husband Harry. She continued in her humanitarian work and volunteer appearances at children’s hospitals, and in her hobby of training dogs. 

On January 1, 1975 After nearly forty years of marriage, Harry Leedy died in New York City. Connee began to make more frequent appearances in clubs and even appears with Benny Goodman in an anniversary concert. However, before long, it is clear to all that Connee was also ill. She has always had a very healthy appetite, saying herself that she could “eat like a horse.” She experienced severe stomach pain so she sought medical attention. On February 11, 1976 Connee underwent surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in NYC to remove a tumour from her stomach. Doctors were optimistic that they could remove the tumor successfully. 

 Sometime afterward though, they discovered that the cancer had returned and began chemotherapy. By the early fall, she was confined to her hospital room at Mt Sinai and finally asked doctors to stop all treatments. On October 12, 1976 Constance Foore Boswell Leedy died at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. She was 68 years old. She was buried in Ferncliff Cemetery, Hartsdale, New York, next to her husband Harry. (Info edited from Wikipedia & an article by David Lobosco)


3 comments:

boppinbob said...

For “Connee Boswell – Heart and Soul – 25 Hits 1932 – 1942” go here:

http://www28.zippyshare.com/v/IoR7JyeY/file.html

1. Heart & Soul
2. Me Minus You
3. I Cover The Waterfront
4. Under A Blanket Of Blue
5. It's The Talk Of The Town
6. Carioca
7. All I Do Is Dream Of You
8. In The Middle Of A Kiss
9. That Old Feeling
10. Basin Street Blues
11. Bob White
12. Gypsy Love Song
13. You Forgot To Remember
14. I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart
15. Deep In A Dream
16. Sunrise Serenade
17. You Grow Sweeter As The Years Go By
18. They Can't Take That Away From Me
19. On The Isle Of May
20. I Hear A Rhapsody
21. Amapola
22. Sand In My Shoes
23. Stormy Weather
24. One Dozen Roses
25. Little Man, You've Had A Busy Day


This British compilation is subtitled "25 Hits 1932-42," and which is not exactly true, since it features only a handful of Connee Boswell's popular recordings from the period (notably, the Bing Crosby duets "Basin Street Blues" and "Bob White," "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart," "On the Isle of May," and "Sand in My Shoes"). Annotator Peter Dempsey puts it better when he writes that the album contains a "cross-section" of Boswell's "wide-ranging discography." The range extends from ballad standards in orchestral arrangements like "You Forgot to Remember" and "They Can't Take That Away From Me" to jazz dates like "Me Minus You," which features a pickup band led by the Dorsey brothers and a Bunny Berigan trumpet solo, and "Gypsy Love Song" with Bob Crosby's Bob-Cats. Although Boswell was an accomplished torch singer in the tradition of Helen Morgan, one might have wished for more of the jazz material since it shows off her terrific sense of swing, which influenced a generation of singers, especially Ella Fitzgerald. Still, at 75½ minutes, this collection is an excellent single-disc sampler.( AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann)

Unknown said...

A great lady and awesome singer. I am proud to share a birthday with her,

Pudge said...

As always a great post and notes.