Welcome to Mellow's Log Cabin. This blog's purpose is to supply information on a diversity of American southern music - ranging from country, blues, old-time and folk to R&B, rock'n'roll and rockabilly. I regularly present my research results about artists, labels, shows and also give guest writers a chance to publish their texts here on occasion.


• Jack Turner recordings available here.
• Update on Les Randall acetate.
• Thanks to Bob more info on Bill Harris.

Search This Blog

Friday, December 9, 2016

Sophisticated Black Women and/or Tough Cookies, Part II

Another bobsluckycat post presented by Mellow's Log Cabin!

Billie Holiday
Billie Holiday (Eleanora Fagan) born in Baltimore Maryland in 1915 was a jazz and pop singer with a very thin, almost waifish voice who, after a troubled childhood and playing Harlem clubs was discovered in 1935 and signed to Brunswick Records and then had major success on Columbia and Decca Records well into the 1940's, including "Solitude" featured here. "Lady Day" as she was known had a successful career, including three sold out concerts at Carnegie Hall during her lifetime and other venues including Europe and a cornacopia of solid jazz recordings right up to her death in 1959 despite the fact that her life was filled with professional and personal problems and financial problems intensified by her blatant use of alcohol and heroin, which killed her in 1959, essentially hospitalized in police custody and near penniless in a New York City hospital at age 44.Her life was a long and at times sordid story packed into those few short years which can be found elsewhere. Her music and her voice lives on, thanks be to God.

Billie Holiday - Solitude

Helen Humes born in 1913 in Louisville Kentucky, the only child of a well-to-do Black couple and was raised with a solid background in church singing and piano and organ lessons. By age 14, she had the good luck to be recorded by Okeh Records and again in in 1929. at age 16. Music did not appear to be in the cards for her professionally, but a trip to Buffalo New York turned into a $35.00 a week job singing with a small group for a long while. 1936 saw Helen at the Cincinnati Cotton Club still making that $35.00 a week. Count Basie came through Cincinnati about that time and offered Helen $35.00 a week to replace the now gone Billie Holiday. She turned him down flat as she was already making an easy $35.00 a week with Al Sears and his small group whom she originally played with in Buffalo N.Y. During a gig in New York City, producer John Hammond convinced her to record 4 sides with the Harry James Orchestra and that led to four years with the aforementioned Count Basie and his band. The nearly constant touring after four years took a toll on her health and, stressed out, she quit the band in 1942. After recovering at home in Louisville, John Hammond came calling again and insisted that she return to several dates in New York City. In 1944, Helen moved to L.A. and did work at film studios and limited tours with Jazz At The Philharmonic and started to record again in an early R&B style and had a couple of hits from 1945 into 1950, but otherwise her career stagnated and after some touring in Europe and a few American Jazz Festivals, Helen retired and stayed retired in Louisville until 1973 when she returned to the Newport Jazz Festival which was followed by very successful European tours and a series of LP's for the French label Black And Blue Records, also picking up the Music Industry Of France Award in 1973 and regular engagements in New York City. Outgoing and gracious to a fault to everyone, Helen was given the Key To The City Of Louisville Ky. in 1975 as well. Helen Humes died from Cancer in 1981 in Santa Monica CA. shortly after the release of her final LP "Helen", recorded live over three evenings June 17, June 18,and June 19 1980.

Helen Humes - Tain't Nobody's Biz-ness
Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Jane Fitzgerald born in Newport News Virginia in 1917, but grew up in Harlem, was to have one of the longest and successful careers in both Jazz and Popular music with 14 Grammy awards, A National Medal Of Arts, and a Presidential Medal Of Freedom at the top of her accolades. Her early years in the Depression 30's saw her in a girls reform school and street singing in Harlem for change. After winning an Amatuer Contest at the Apollo and a week with the Tiny Bradshaw & His Band at the Harlem Opera House. Ella was brought to the attention of Chick Webb, a noted bandleader who was in need of a female band singer. Reluctant to hire her right away, Ella got a try out at Yale University, and from that success came a job with Chick Webb with a lot of touring nationwide and stays at Webb's home base The Savoy Ballroom in Harlem until Webb's untimely death in 1939. At which time, Ella took over the band and kept it going through 1942 when she disbanded it for a variety of reasons not the least of which was a solo career and a movie offer. Universal Pictures put her in the Abbott & Costello film "Ride 'Em Cowboy" which also starred movie cowboys Dick Foran and Johnny Mack Brown. Ella's two songs "Rockin' And A Reelin' " and "A Tiskit A Tasket", were shot in such a way they easily be cut from copies of the film from wherever theatres in the South and elsewhere didn't want to show them. The songs were left in at various theatres around the country and in the re-releases as well. The film, being an Abbott & Costello film raked in a ton of money.

After World War 2, Ella's career hit the heights and stayed there until she was forced to retire due to ill health and diabetes in 1993. Her most notable albums were devoted to famous pop and jazz music composers and a lot of touring in America and Europe and elsewhere. She shared the stage with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, Count Basie and many, many more in many venues world wide and was truly a household world. Ella Fitzgerald passed away in 1996 from diabetes.

Ella Fitzgerald - Putting on the Ritz

No comments: