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Afterglow Jazz and American Popular Song

Kay Starr: Jazz Singer

Kay Starr is best-known for her 1950s pop-novelty hits “Wheel of Fortune” and “The Rock and Roll Waltz,” but her roots were in the swing era of the 1940s.

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Kay Starr `1940s

Photo: Album cover art

Starr is renowned by jazz critics and jazz-vocal fans for the recordings she made with small groups and big bands in the 1940s and the beginning of the 1960s.

Kay Starr was born July 21, 1922 on a reservation in Doughterty, Oklahoma, with a strongly Native American heritage and some Irish as well. She’s a singer whose style, which jazz writer Gary Giddins called “her brassy fusion of urban swing and country twang,” crossed several genres and won her admirers in the jazz world such as pianist Bud Powell, saxophonist Lester Young, and singers Dinah Washington and Helen Humes. Starr would achieve her biggest commercial success in the 1950s with pop-novelty songs such as “Wheel of Fortune” and “The Rock and Roll Waltz,” but her artistic legacy rests on the many jazz recordings she made in the 1940s and in the late 1950s and early 1960s, featured on this edition of Afterglow.

Music Heard On This Episode

St. Louis Blues
Kay Starr — Complete Lamplighter Recordings 1945-46 (Baldwin Street, 1999)
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St. Louis Blues
Kay Starr — Complete Lamplighter Recordings 1945-46 (Baldwin Street, 1999)
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I Can't Get Started
Charlie Barnet — Complete Lamplighter Recordings 1945-46 (Baldwin Street, 1999)
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Memphis Blues
Bob Crosby — Complete Lamplighter Recordings 1945-46 (Baldwin Street, 1999)
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Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall
Charlie Barnet — Drop Me Off In Harlem (Decca/GRP, 1992)
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If I Could Be With You
Wingy Manone — Complete Lamplighters 1945-46 (Baldwin Street, 1999)
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There's A Lull In My Life
Kay Starr — Best Of The Standard Transcriptions (Soundies, 2000)
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After You've Gone
Barney Bigard — Complete Lamplighter Recordings 1945-46 (Baldwin Street Music, 1999)
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Stardust
Barney Bigard — Complete Lamplighter Recordings 1945-46 (Baldwin Street, 1999)
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Tell Me How Long The Train's Been Gone (midpoint music bed)
Kay Starr — Best Of The Standard Transcriptions (Soundies, 2000)
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Stormy Weather
Nat King Cole — Jazz Encounters (Blue Note, 1992)
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Believe It, Beloved
Dave Cavanaugh — Classic Capitol Jazz Sessions (Mosaic, 1996)
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Then I'll Be Tired Of You
Kay Starr — The Ultimate Collection (EMI Australia, 2007)
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There Ain't No Sweet Man Worth The Salt Of My Tears
Kay Starr — The Ultimate Collection (EMI Australia, 2007)
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I Never Knew I Could Love Anybody Like I'm Loving You
Kay Starr — Jazz Singer (Exemplar, 2002)
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Sunday
Kay Starr — Jazz Singer (Exemplar, 2002)
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Baby Won't You Please Come Home
Kay Starr — I Cry By Night (Exemplar, 2002)
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More Than You Know
Kay Starr — I Cry By Night (Exemplar, 2002)
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Loverman
Kay Starr — I Cry By Night (Exemplar, 2002)
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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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