My original title was Women Jazz Singers of the 1920s and 30s, but that’s too long. And it’s taken me a long time to assemble the 20 tracks of 20 different singers I invite you to download.
It’s been an interesting ‘journey’, not least because I didn’t know that Cab Calloway modelled his act on that of his older sister Blanche. I’d also forgotten that before Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire recorded with his sister Adele. However, I ‘dropped’ her and him because he’s still famous. Few will have heard of, let alone heard, most of the others, so I’ve given links for your further interest: they deserve to be remembered.
Billie Holiday is widely labelled as ‘The First Lady of Jazz’: in fact, numerically speaking, she wasn’t. It’s easy to say that Bessie Smith was one of her inspirations, but then she too had someone, the ‘Mother of the Blues’ Ma Rainey to show her “the way of the world“.
It is known that Valaida Snow came to Batavia with the Jack Carter Orchestra in 1928. Given that most jazz bands in the Dutch East Indies and the immediate post war era of Indonesia relied on sheet music and ‘imported’ 78rpm platen, one may reasonably wonder if some of the music you’re about to listen to has been heard here before.
1920. Mamie Smith – Crazy Blues (the first jazz record with female vocalist)
1921. Lucille Hegamin – Arkansas Blues
1922. Brox Sisters – Bring on the Pepper
1923. Ida Cox – I’ve Got the Blues for Rampart Street
1924. Alberta Hunter – Nobody Knows The Way I Feel Dis Mornin’
1925. Eva Taylor – Cake Walking Babies from Home
1926. Bertha ‘Chippie’ Hill – Pratt City Blues
1927. Bessie Smith – Alexander’s Ragtime Band
1928. Sophie Tucker – He’s Tall, Dark And Handsome
1929. Helen Kane – I Want To Be Bad (She claimed to be the inspiration for Betty Boop but …)
1930. Lee Morse – Cooking Breakfast For The One I Love
1931. Blanche Calloway – Crazy Song
1932. Connee Boswell – Say It Isn’t So
1933. Valaida Snow – Maybe I’m To Blame
1934. Ethel Waters – I Ain’t Gonna Sin No More
1935. Elsie Carlisle – I’ve Got An Invitation To A Dance
1936. Billie Holiday – A Fine Romance
1937. Maxine Sullivan – Loch Lomond
1938. Una Mae Carlisle – Hangover Blues
1939. Mildred Bailey – Moon Love
Well Worth A Listen Dept.
Five streamed programs “surveying the often overlooked Jazz Blues and Swing Women of Jazz.”