Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Ina Ray Hutton born 13 March 1911

Odessa Cowan, better known by her stage name Ina Ray Hutton (March 13, 1916 – February 19, 1984), was an American vocalist, bandleader, and the sister of June Hutton. 

Hutton was born Odessa Cowan at her parents' home in Chicago, Illinois on March 13, 1916.  Her mother, Marvel (Williams) Cowan, was a newlywed housewife, married to Odie Daniel Cowan, a salesman.  By the time Odessa was three years old, she and her mother were living with her maternal grandmother, and her step-grandfather, a dining car waiter for a railroad.  That year, Odessa’s sister, June, was born at home.  When the census taker arrived a few months later, their father was not recorded as a resident of the family home. 

Odessa and June grew up among the black neighbourhood on Chicago’s South Side.  Their mother played piano in dance halls and hotel ballrooms.  Odessa studied dance with a prominent black teacher and choreographer, Hazel Thompson Davis. She began dancing and singing in stage revues at the age of eight. 

By the age of 13, Odessa was considered so advanced that she skipped eighth grade and went straight to high school at Hyde Park High School. In 1930, at age 14, she made her Broadway debut with Gus Edwards at the Palace Theatre in New York.  As Ina Ray, at age 16, she was a featured singer and dancer in George White’s “Melody;” at 17, she joined the Ziegfeld Follies.   

In 1934, when Ina Ray was just 18, the manager Irving Mills formed an all-female band and made her the leader.  Mills added “Hutton” to her stage name, to capitalize on the notoriety of Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton.  The group was called Ina Ray Hutton and Her Melodears. 

The group featured musicians including trumpet player Frances Klein, Canadian pianist Ruth Lowe Sandler, saxophonist Jane Cullum, guitarist Marian Gange, trumpeter Mardell "Owen" Winstead and trombonist Alyse Wells during its existence. Hutton and her Melodears were one of the first all-girl bands to be filmed for Paramount shorts, including Accent on Girls and Swing Hutton Swing and Hollywood feature films under the management of national booking agent Irving Mills.  

 Hutton toured with the Melodears for five years playing live coast to coast and on radio shows, plus recording for the Elite and Victor labels. She was known as the "Blonde Bombshell of Rhythm,” she conducted her band with her whole body, changing costumes several times each show, from one strappy, sequined gown to the next.  The group disbanded in 1939.  
In the 1940s Hutton went brunette and led a male band.  She was featured in her own starring role in the Columbia musical, "Ever Since Venus" (1944). But the novelty of all-female bands still held enough appeal that Hutton organized another one in 1951 for “The
Ina Ray Hutton Show” on television, and earned five Emmys.  The show aired on the west coast for four years, and for a summer season nationally on NBC.  Hutton continued as a singer and bandleader through the 1960s. She continued to sing and lead bands until her retirement in 1968 although her last recorded performance came in the 1975 film Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? 

Hutton died of complications from diabetes on February 19, 1984, at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, California.  She was buried in Ivy Lawn Memorial Park, Ventura, Ventura County, California.    

She was preceded in death by her fourth husband Jack Curtis, and by her sister, the singer June Hutton. (Compiled and edited from Wikipedia and blackpast.org)


boppinbob said...

For “Ina Ray Hutton - The Definitive Collection: 1934-1944” go here:


1.How's About Tomorrow Night?
2.And I Still Do
3.Georgia's Gorgeous Gal
4.Wild Party
5.Twenty-Four Hours in Georgia
6.Witch Doctor
7.Hobo on Park Avenue
9.Devil's Kitchen
11.I'm a Hundred Percent for You
13.Organ Grinders Swing Overture
14.Medley: Stardust / Organ Grinder’s Swing
15.Doin' the Suzie-Q
16.The Melodears Swing

1.Five O’Clock Whistle
2.Make Me Know It
3.A Handful of Stars
4.Gotta Have Your Love
5.What's the Good of Moonlight
6.At Last
7.Nobody's Sweetheart
8.Back in Your Own Backyard
10.A Sinner Kissed an Angel
11.Ev’rything I Love
12.You Made Me Love You
13.Don’t Tetch It
14.Was It Worth It?

2.Cabin in the Sky
3.You'd Be So Nice to Come Home to
5.Way Down Upon the Swanee River (Old Folks at Home)
6.Georgia on My Mind
7.Johnny Zero
9.It Can't Be Wrong
10.Blue Skies
11.That Old Black Magic
12.In My Arms
13.Star Eyes
14.King Porter Stomp
15.Rose Room
16.Tess' Torch Song (I Had a Man)
17.Besame Mucho
18.Ring Dem Bells
19.King Porter Stomp
20.All of Me
21.Blue Moon
22.Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet
23.Take It Easy

All in all, this comprehensive Ina Ray Hutton 3-disc collection is the most complete set ever released of this underappreciated and pioneering treasure. Digitally re-mastered, this set is a must-have for fans and collectors alike. Enjoy!

Pudge said...

Great post. Thanks Bob.

heylee said...

Thank you Bob for this fine collection.

Blighty said...

Oh dear, Bob! I missed this completely. Is there any chance of re-uploading it, please? Great music, and thanks for all your posts.

boppinbob said...

Hello Blighty, do not despair....here it is (after a bit of a search)


I downloaded it originally from AMAZON as an mp3 disc , I was a bit miffed when I found the bit rate was only 130 - 160 and told them so! Still it sounds ok.

Blighty said...

boppinbob you're a star. Thank you!