Archive for the ‘20’s Singers’ Category

Louis Prima


Louis Prima
Also known as The King of the Swing
Born December 7, 1910
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Died August 24, 1978 (aged 67)
New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Genres Jazz
Traditional pop
Occupations Singer, entertainer, trumpeter, bandleader
Instruments Vocals, trumpet
Years active 1929–1975
Associated acts Gia Maione, Keely Smith, Sam Butera (and the Witnesses)
Louis Prima (December 7, 1910 – August 24, 1978)[1] was an Italian-American singer, actor, songwriter, and trumpeter. Prima rode the musical trends of his time, starting with his seven-piece New Orleans style jazz band in the late 1920s, then leading a swing combo in the 1930s, a big band in the 1940s, a Vegas lounge act in the 1950s, and a pop-rock band in the 1960s.

Edith Piaf



Édith Piaf (French: [edit pjaf]; 19 December 1915 – 10 October 1963; born Édith Giovanna Gassion) was a French cabaret singer, songwriter and actress who became widely regarded as France’s national chanteuse, as well as being one of France’s greatest international stars.

Her music was often autobiographical with her singing reflecting her life, with her specialty being of chanson and torch ballads, particularly of love, loss and sorrow. Among her well known songs are “La Vie en rose” (1946), “Non, je ne regrette rien” (1960), “Hymne à l’amour” (1949), “Milord” (1959), “La Foule” (1957), “L’Accordéoniste (fr)” (1955), and “Padam … Padam …” (1951).

Since her premature death in 1963 and with the aid of several biographies and films including 2007’s Academy Award winning La Vie en rose, Piaf has cultivated a legacy as one of the greatest performers of the 20th century, and her voice and music continues to be celebrated globally.

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Marion Williams


Born August 29, 1927
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Died July 2, 1994 (aged 66)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Genres Gospel
Instrument Vocal
Marion Williams (August 29, 1927 – July 2, 1994) was an American

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Mahalia Jackson


Mahala Jackson
Also known as Halie Jackson
Born October 26, 1911
New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Died January 27, 1972 (aged 60)
Evergreen Park, Illinois, U.S.
Genres Gospel
Occupations Singer
Instruments Voice
Years active 1927–1971
Labels Decca Coral, Apollo, Columbia
Associated acts Albertina Walker, Aretha Franklin, Dorothy Norwood, Della Reese, Cissy Houston, Milton Brunson
Mahalia Jackson (/məˈheɪljə/ mə-hayl-yə; October 26, 1911 – January 27, 1972) was an American gospel singer. Possessing a powerful contralto voice, she was referred to as “The Queen of Gospel”. She became one of the most influential gospel singers in the world and was heralded internationally as a singer and civil rights activist. She was described by entertainer Harry Belafonte as “the single most powerful black woman in the United States”. She recorded about 30 albums (mostly for Columbia Records) during her career, and her 45 rpm records included a dozen “golds”—million-sellers.

“I sing God’s music because it makes me feel free”, Jackson once said about her choice of gospel, adding, “It gives me hope. With the blues, when you finish, you still have the blues.”

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Judy Garland

Frances Ethel Gumm
June 10, 1922
Grand Rapids, Minnesota, United States
Died June 22, 1969 (aged 47)
Chelsea, London, United Kingdom
Cause of death Barbiturate overdose
Occupation Actress, singer, vaudevillian
Years active 1924–1969 (singer)
1929–1967 (actress)
Spouses David Rose (m. 1941; div. 1944)
Vincente Minnelli (m. 1945; div. 1951)
Sidney Luft (m. 1952; div. 1965)
Mark Herron (m. 1965; div. 1967)
Mickey Deans (m. 1969; her death 1969)
Children Liza Minnelli, Lorna Luft, Joey Luft
Parents Francis Avent Gumm (father)
Ethel Marion Milne (mother)
Awards List of awards and honors
Judy Garland (June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969), born Frances Ethel Gumm, was an American singer, actress, and vaudevillian. She was renowned for her contralto vocals and attained international stardom which continued throughout a career that spanned more than 40 years as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist, and on concert stages. Respected for her versatility, she received a Juvenile Academy Award and won a Golden Globe Award, as well as Grammy Awards and a Special Tony Award.

She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the remake of A Star Is Born and for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 1961 film Judgment at Nuremberg. She remains the youngest recipient (at 39 years of age) of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in the motion picture industry.

After appearing in vaudeville with her two older sisters, Garland was signed to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer as a teenager. There, she made more than two dozen films, including nine with Mickey Rooney, and 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. After 15 years, she was released from the studio and then gained new success through record-breaking concert appearances, including a return to acting, beginning with critically acclaimed performances.

Despite her professional triumphs, Garland struggled immensely in her personal life, starting when she was a child. Her self-image was strongly influenced by film executives, who said she was unattractive and constantly manipulated her onscreen physical appearance. She was plagued by financial instability, often owing hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes. She married five times, with her first four marriages ending in divorce. She also had a long battle with drugs and alcohol, which ultimately led to her death from a barbiturate overdose at the age of 47.

In 1997, Garland was posthumously awarded a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Several of her recordings have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 1999, the American Film Institute placed her among the ten greatest female stars of Classic American cinema.

Joséphine Baker


Freda Josephine McDonald
3 June 1906
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died 12 April 1975 (aged 68)
Paris, France
Cause of death Cerebral hemorrhage
Resting place Monaco Cemetery
Residence Roquebrun, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Nationality American, French
Occupation Dancer, singer, actress, civil rights activist, spy
Years active 1921–1975
William Wells (m. 1919–20)
William Baker (m. 1921–25)
Jean Lion (m. 1937–38)
Jo Bouillon (m. 1947–61)
Partner Robert Brady (1973–75)
Children 12; including Jean-Claude Baker
Musical career
Genres Cabaret, music hall, French pop, French jazz
Instruments Vocals
Labels Columbia, Mercury, RCA Victor
Josephine Baker (3 June 1906 – 12 April 1975) was an American-born French dancer, singer, and actress who came to be known in various circles as the “Black Pearl,” “Bronze Venus” and even the “Creole Goddess”. Born Freda Josephine McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri, Josephine Baker became a citizen of France in 1937. She was fluent in both English and French.

Baker was the first black woman to star in a major motion picture, Zouzou (1934), or to become a world-famous entertainer. Baker refused to perform for segregated audiences in the United States and is noted for her contributions to the Civil Rights Movement. In 1968 she was offered unofficial leadership in the movement in the United States by Coretta Scott King, following Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination. Baker turned down the offer. She was also known for assisting the French Resistance during World War II, and received the French military honor, the Croix de guerre and was made a Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur by General Charles de Gaulle.


Benny Bell

Benny Bell was born to an immigrant Jewish family in New York City. His father wanted him to be a rabbi, but after trying various odd jobs including self-employed street peddler, he decided to pursue a career in vaudeville and music, sometimes under the names Benny Bimbo and Paul Wynn. His first record, “The Alimony Blues” (backed with “Fast Asleep on a Mountain”), for Plaza Records on December 16, 1929 was a comical song about preferring to spend time in jail rather than pay alimony. He went on to write approximately 600 songs, most of which are documented in his many notebooks, ledgers and copyright papers.

In addition to songs with English lyrics, he also wrote and recorded in Yiddish and Hebrew, sometimes mixing two or even three languages in one song (e.g. “Bar Mitzvah Boy” which uses all three). According to liner notes on his albums, these multiple-language songs are intended to be understood by listeners who speak any one of the languages used.

Bell founded his own record company under a variety of names: Bell Enterprises, Madison Records, Zion Records, and Kosher Comedy Records, to release his own material. He also wrote and recorded commercial jingles for radio. His jingle for Lemke’s cockroach powder, sung in a mixture of Yiddish and English, has been released on record.

Bell enjoyed writing risqué lyrics, and in 1939 he was advised that he could make so-called party records with “blue” lyrics, primarily for use in juke boxes in cocktail bars. He entered into this endeavour using his self-established record company, while continuing to make ethnic and mainstream comedy records. In an interview on the Dr. Demento radio program, Bell stated that he kept his straight and blue careers separate for many years, the latter being a secret to most of his fans and associates. His eventual fame would come mostly from his risqué material. His first juke box release was a hot jazz arrangement of a traditional risqué drinking song, “Sweet Violets”, but his first big success in this field was an original song, “Take a Ship for Yourself”.

In 1946, he released his three highest-selling songs: “Take a Ship for Yourself,” “Pincus the Peddler” which drew from his personal experience in the trade, and the notorious “Shaving Cream”. “Pincus the Peddler” became Bell’s signature tune, despite the title character’s disreputable violent tendencies, and it concludes with his deportation to Petrograd (now Saint Petersburg, Russia). Each verse in “Shaving Cream” ends with a mind rhyme of shit, the initial sh- segueing into the refrain, “Shaving Cream, be nice and clean…” The same technique was used in “Sweet Violets” and many other songs that he recorded.

Other songs written by Bell include “Without Pants”, “My Grandfather Had a Long One”, “The Girl From Chicago”, “The Ballad of Ikey and Mikey”, “My Condominium”, “I’m Gonna Give My Girl a Goose for Thanksgiving”, “There Ain’t No Santa Claus”, and “Everybody Wants My Fanny”.

He continued recording and releasing records into the 1980s, but he remained little-known beyond New York City until the 1970s when “Shaving Cream” was played regularly on the Dr. Demento radio program, leading to its re-issue as a single in 1975 on the Vanguard Records label, along with a similarly titled album. The single peaked at #30 on the Billboard Hot 100. Around this time, Bell was still writing new songs about current topics such as disco music and the Watergate scandal.

Bell continued self-releasing vinyl albums into the 1980s, and they often resemble 1950s releases, featuring somewhat plain covers with the same graphics (an array of laughing heads) re-used for decades, or with no art except a plain cover with hole to view the label. He continued to issue 10-inch albums long after that format was considered obsolete. Some albums have new spoken jokes edited into breaks in older songs as “asides”, a technique Bell had been using since the 1950s, and some songs contain comic interruptions made over several decades.[citation needed]

In the early 1990s Bell appeared at the Bottom Line with Doctor Demento and Weird Al Yankovic. He also appeared on MTV

A book called “Grandpa Had a Long One: Personal Notes on the Life, Career and Legacy of Benny Bell,” which is a combination biography and memoir written by his grandson, Joel Samberg, was published by BearManor Media and released in 2009. It is available from the publisher and from Joel Samberg, who collaborated with his grandfather on a few recordings and videos in the 1970s and 1980s, also recorded several new versions of “Shaving Cream” after Benny Bell’s death, using his grandfather’s music with updated lyrics. These include “Presidential Shaving Cream,” which skewered the presidential and vice presidential candidates in 2008, and “Holiday Shaving Cream,” which paints potent pictures of Christmas and Chanukkah traditions. Both can be found on YouTube.

In 1995 Bell suffered a fall and was admitted to Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, New York. While recuperating Bell met Fred Schuepfer, his roommate, who with his friends 20 years previously had listened to and enjoyed many of Bell’s songs on the Dr. Demento Show. Bell entertained Schuepfer by singing several of the songs and he recounted many anecdotes about the New York music scene of the 1940s, including meetings with Irving Berlin.

Bell died in New York in July 1999, at the age of 93. His son Charles Samberg donated the vast majority of Bell’s works to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL.

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