MUSIC CLIP - OSCAR PETERSON, “MOONGLOW”
Welcome to Afterglow, I’m your host, Mark Chilla.
On this show, it’s another installment of my “voices that time forgot” series, featuring singers from the 1950s that never quite made it to the spotlight, despite their level of talent. In previous editions of this series, I’ve featured some “would be Franks Sinatras” or “would be Ella Fitzgeralds.” But here, I want to feature some “would be Peggy Lees,” white female jazz singers, many of whom got their start singing in big bands in the 1940s, who all recorded mostly in a ballad style in the 1950s. This includes singers like Jane Harvey, Peggy King and Dori Howard.
It’s some Voices That Time Forgot, coming up next on Afterglow
MUSIC - ANNE PHILLIPS, “IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU”
MUSIC - JANET BRACE, “IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU”
Two versions of the 1943 standard “It Could Happen To You,” originally written by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke. Just now, we heard an upbeat version from singer Janet Brace in 1956 accompanied by vibraphonist Don Elliott and his quintet. That’s from her album Special Delivery for ABC-Paramount. Before that, singer Anne Phillips with a more restrained version from her 1959 album Born To Be Blue for Roulette Records, and arranged by Kermit Leslie.
MUSIC CLIP - THE PETE JOLLY TRIO, “IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU”
Mark Chilla here on Afterglow. On this show, I’m featuring some lesser known jazz and pop singers from the 1950s., focusing on some white, female vocalists, none of whom made it to the spotlight.
There are always reasons that singers don’t “make it,” in the traditional sense. Bad timing, poor management, or even just dumb luck. Why none of these singers I’ll be featuring this hour didn’t make it can be debated, but it certainly wasn’t because they were bad singers. In fact, each of these singers possessed an incredible voice, with their own unique interpretative gifts. Had things been slightly different, they may have become the next Peggy Lee or Jo Stafford. Yet, these singers were mostly lost to history. Over the last decade, the intrepid producers at Fresh Sound Records have been committed to bringing these singers to the fore in their “Best Voices That Time Forgot” series, and I’ll be featuring many of their CD reissues this hour.
I want to start with singer Jane Harvey. Of all the singers I’ll be featuring this hour, Jane Harvey may have the best (quote-unquote) “pedigree.” She started her career singing in New York’s Cafe Society night club, where club owner Barney Josephson changed her name from Phyllis Taff to Jane Harvey. In the 1940s, she sang and recorded with the orchestras of Benny Goodman and Desi Arnaz, and performed on USO tours with Bob Hope. Harvey later moved out to Los Angeles, becoming friends with songwriter and late night host Steve Allen (who wrote the liner notes to her album Leave It To Jane!), as well as record producer Bob Thile (who she later married). In the 1950s, she temporarily retired to raise her son, Bob Thile, Jr., but soon returned to the music business, performing with Duke Ellington’s Orchestra and recording that aforementioned album.
I want to feature two songs from that album now. But rather than focusing on standards, I’d like to feature mostly songs that have been recorded far less often. It seems to be in the spirit of this hour’s show: singers that were often overlooked performing songs that were often overlooked.
First up is a tune by Harvey’s former bandleader Duke Ellington, but not necessarily one of his most famous tunes. Here is Jane Harvey in 1959, from her album Leave It To Jane! with the song “Everything But You,” on Afterglow
MUSIC - JANE HARVEY, “EVERYTHING BUT YOU”
MUSIC - JANE HARVEY, “IMPOSSIBLE”
Singer Jane Harvey from her album Leave It To Jane, recorded for Dot Records in 1959. Just now, we heard the Steve Allen song “Impossible” (Steve Allen, by the way, wrote the original liner notes to that album). And before that, the Duke Ellington song “Everything But You.”
The next singer I’d like to feature is Peggy King. Although she may not be remembered much today as a singer, Peggy King had a pretty good career in the 1950s. She was a frequent guest star on television, an occasional player in film, and became the jingle queen on radio, singing advertisements for Hunt’s tomato sauce and Schlitz beer. She soon landed a contract with Columbia records, and sold pretty well as a pop star. In 1960, she was famous enough to become one of the first 1500 or so people to be given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (which you can still find on Hollywood Boulevard today).
In 1959, King recorded the album Lazy Afternoon for Imperial Records, which featured her breaking out of her “perky Peggy” persona on television and recording something a little more mature. Let’s hear two songs from that album now, beginning with another less familiar tune.
This is Peggy King in 1959 with a song written by Jerome Moross and John Latouche for the 1954 musical The Golden Apple, and also the title song of King’s album. This is “Lazy Afternoon,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - PEGGY KING, “LAZY AFTERNOON”
MUSIC - PEGGY KING, “LITTLEBOY HEART”
Singer Peggy King in 1959 from her album Lazy Afternoon. Just now, the song “Littleboy Heart,” a tune written for her by Arthur Hamilton (and a song I’m not sure has been performed by anyone since). Before that, the title song from the album “Lazy Afternoon,” by Jerome Moross and John Latouche.
I’m going to feature two lesser-known singers in the next set, Janet Brace and Dori Howard. Both singers spent most of their time in New York, and both singers really only recorded one album. Brace moved from West Virginia to New York in the late 1940s, and sang in the bands of Vincent Lopez and Johnny Long, before making solo appearances at the Village Vanguard and the Blue Angel. Howard, on the other hand, grew up in Queens, and sang in many of the clubs on the East Side, and was known to play the drums as well (although not professionally). Like many jazz singers who came around in the late 1950s, the opportunities dried up quickly, so we only have this one album from each of them. It just so happens that vibraphonist and trumpeter Don Elliott performs on both of these records.
First up, we’ll hear from Dori Howard, with a lovely tune I was completely unfamiliar with. This is the song “You’re Not Alone,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - DORI HOWARD, “YOU’RE NOT ALONE”
MUSIC - JANET BRACE, “TIME WAS”
Singer Janet Brace, in 1956, from her only album called Special Delivery. That was the song “Time Was,” originally a Spanish song written by Miguel Prado. Before that, we heard singer Dori Howard with the song “You’re Not Alone,” written by Virginia Jirik and Jesse Barnes, from her 1959 album Dori Howard Sings. Both of those tunes featured vibraphonist Don Elliott.
MUSIC CLIP - BENNY CARTER, “ALL ALONE”
We’ll have more lesser known songs sung by lesser known singers in just a bit.
I’m Mark Chilla, and you’re listening to the Voices That Time Forgot, on Afterglow
MUSIC CLIP - DAVE BRUBECK, "HEART AND SOUL"
MUSIC CLIP - THE TOMMY FLANAGAN TRIO, “BORN TO BE BLUE”
Welcome back to Afterglow, I’m Mark Chilla. We’ve been exploring some lesser-known female jazz and pop singers this hour, all featured in the Fresh Sound Records CD series, “The Best Voices Time Forgot.” I want to turn now to singer Anne Phillips.
Anne Phillips has had a really interesting career. She started out as a music student at Oberlin College, caught a bug for singing jazz, and moved out to New York at age 19. She started playing piano and singing in every jazz club she could, which led to a deal with Roulette Records to record her debut album Born To Be Blue (which we’ll hear from in just a bit), a lovely record full of smoky ballads. From there, Phillips went on to become an arranger, composer, record producer, advertising jingle writer, and first call background singer for many notable producers in New York (she even sang background vocals for Carole King at one point).
Phillips is still working today, more as a classical composer than a jazz singer, but her love of the American Songbook has remained, and she has organized jazz choir for children and adults to keep the music alive.
Let’s hear some music from her album Born To Be Blue. In keeping with the theme, I want to feature some less-familiar music. Here is Anne Phillips with a lovely version of the Lew Brown song “I’ve Got To Pass Your House To Get To Mine,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - ANNE PHILLIPS, “I’VE GOT TO PASS YOUR HOUSE TO GET TO MINE”
MUSIC - ANNE PHILLIPS, “FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE”
Singer Anne Phillips in 1959 with two songs from her album Born To Be Blue for Roulette Records. Just now, we heard the song “For Heaven’s Sake,” by Elise Bretton, Sherman Edwards, and Don Meyer. Before that the Lew Brown song “I’ve Got To Pass Your House To Get To Mine.”
Let’s hear a few more sad ballads, this time by singer Pam Garner. Like many of the singers I’ve featured this hour, Pam Garner emerged in the late 1950s with a jazzy, ballad style, entering a market ripe for that kind of music. However, in a few years, the market dried up, and so did opportunities. Pam Garner was born in Texas and moved out to California where she initially started singing country and Western music before turning to jazz. She performed with Les Brown’s band, and recorded two solo albums: one for Coral Records in 1959 and another for Columbia records in 1960. We’ll hear from that Columbia record now, called Pam Garner Sings Ballads For Broken Hearts, which featured an orchestra arranged and conducted by Johnny Williams, as well as Jack Sheldon on trumpet.
Here is Pam Garner with two lesser known songs now, beginning with the tune “It’s The Talk Of The Town,” on Afterglow
MUSIC - PAM GARNER, “IT’S THE TALK OF THE TOWN”
MUSIC - PAM GARNER, “ONCE IN A WHILE”
Singer Pam Garner, from her 1960 Columbia LP titled Pam Garner Sings Ballads For Broken Hearts. Just now, we heard the Michael Edwards and Bud Green tune “Once In A While,” written in 1937. Before that, the tune “It’s The Talk Of The Town” by Jerry Livingston, Marty Symes, Al Neiburg. Jack Sheldon was playing trumpet on those recordings, Jimmy Rowles was the pianist and Johnny Williams arranged the orchestra.
The next singer I want to feature is much more of a true jazz singer. Sue Childs is a name that not even many jazz aficionados recognize. She never worked in one of the major jazz metropolitan areas, like New York or L.A., but rather stayed close to her home in Flint, Michigan, performing in Detroit and other areas close by in the Midwest. She recorded only one album in 1964, an album that sadly bears the hopeful title Introducing Sue Childs, but on the record, she has a great sense of a swing and cool jazz style, backed by the Tonoy Sotos Quintet.
Here is singer Sue Childs in 1964 with the Gene Austin and Nathaniel Shilkret song “Lonesome Road,” on Afterglow.
MUSIC - SUE CHILDS, “LONESOME ROAD”
Sue Childs, from her only solo LP, 1964’s Introducing Sue Childs, with the tune “Lonesome Road.”
The last lesser known singer I want to feature this hour is another pure jazz singer, Honi Gordon. Gordon has a bit of an underground jazz star, known primarily for her fresh bebop style on her one and only solo LP, Honi Gordon Sings from 1962. She got her start in the music business a decade earlier, singing with the jazz vocal group The Gordons along with her father, jazz songwriter George Gordon. The Gordons became admired by folks like Charles Mingus and Mary Lou Williams, and Honi ventured out on her own by the early 1960s. Her style very much borrows from the hip and angular style of Eddie Jefferson or Annie Ross, and one thinks that if she started recording solo just a few years earlier, when this style was really flourishing, she may be considered among the vocal jazz greats.
To close off this hour, let’s hear two tracks from singer Honi Gordon now. First up, is the Charles Mingus and George Gordon song “Strollin’” on Afterglow
MUSIC - HONI GORDON, "STROLLIN'"
MUSIC - HONI GORDON, "WALKIN' OUT THE DOOR"
Honi Gordon from her one and only solo LP, Honi Gordon Sings from 1962, with two lesser known jazz tunes. Just now, we heard “Walkin’ Out The Door” by Mary Lou Williams, and before that “Strollin’” by Charles Mingus, and lyrics by Gordon’s father George Gordon.
And thanks for tuning in to this look at some Voices That Time Forgot on Afterglow.
MUSIC CLIP - ANDRE PREVIN, “IT'S EASY TO REMEMBER”
Afterglow is part of the educational mission of Indiana University and produced by WFIU Public Radio in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana. The executive producer is John Bailey.
Playlists for this and other Afterglow programs are available on our website. That’s at indianapublicmedia.org/afterglow.
I’m Mark Chilla, and join me next week for our mix of Vocal Jazz and popular song from the Great American Songbook, here on Afterglow.