Other Female Voices of R & B ©1999JCMarion
Following are short histories of available information on a group of lesser known female singers during the R & B years. They all contributed to the history of the music and took part in the formation of what became the sound of the second half of the 20th Century (and beyond).
Debbie Andrews - In March of 1952, Duke Ellington hears Debbie in St. Louis and hires her to be a vocalist with his orchestra. In April Debbie performs "September Song" with the Ellington orchestra on the live broadcast over the Mutual network of the "Concert At Midnight from Carnegie Hall. In April she is signed to Mercury Records. Later that month she takes part in the first radio broadcast from John Dolphin's record Store in Hollywood with disc jockey Tony Vance. Andrews who is from New Orleans but grew up in Detroit has a homecoming of sorts when she plays the motor city's Flame Show Bar. Early in 1953, now based in Chicago, she takes part in a big celebration for Red Saunders 15 years as musical director at the Club DeLisa. Getting nowhere with Mercury Records Debbie signs with Chicago's independent United Records label. Debbie Andrews places third in the Pittsburgh Courier's poll of female vocalists, and will take part in that organization's "Operation Music" concert of poll winners later on in the year. United #154 is released in July of "Please Wait For Me".
Erline Harris - Recorded two hard rocking R & B records for DeLuxe - 1949's "Rock And Roll Blues" (note the use of the term back then), and on DeLuxe #3303 - "Jump And Shout" / "No Good Man Of Mine" in May of 1950. Erline did many dates in the Midwest with the Epp James combo. The follow up to those two fine jump tunes was September's DeLuxe release #3305 - "Blues At First Sight" / "Spare Time Papa". In July of 1951, now listed as Arline Harris, there was one last record this time on the Chess label. It was #1471 - "Pushing My Heart Around" / "Long Tall Papa" with the John Peek orchestra.
Fluffy Hunter - In late 1951 Federal Records announces the signing of Hunter to the label. In March of 1952 her first outing on the label is #12056 - "Walk Right In, Walk Right Out" / "Love Is A Fortune" with the Jessie Powell band. The record receives good airplay in New York and Philadelphia. The company plans to move her to King Records, but that move never occurs. There are two further records for Federal - #12161 - "Climb The Wall" / "To Say I Love You" and #12172 - "Leave It To Me" and "There's So Much Trouble".
Lurlean Hunter - Hunter is known around the R & B clubs in Chicago, appearing as a performer in many of them. In September of 1950, Chicago record seller Seymour Schwartz starts his own label Seymour Records and signs Lurlean to the label. Lurlean appears at club dates with the John Young Trio and is held over at The Apex in Chicago. When nothing happens with Seymour, Lurlean records for the Discovery label. "My Home Town Chicago" and "I Get A Warm Feeling" are released on #533, which also features the John Hunter Orchestra. After some time away from performing following her marriage, Lurlean Hunter is back doing club work in Chicago. In mid may of 1954 she is held over for two more weeks at Chicago's Black Orchid Club.
Mari Jones - Her first outing is as part of Johnny Moore's Three Blazers for the Aladdin label in March of 1951 on #3082 - "Unlucky Girl" / "Four Years". This was followed by #3075 - "Real Lovin' Mama". A year later she was featured vocalist on #3139 "How Could You Be So Mean" and "Mean Papa Blues" with the Three Blazers, and #3166 - "Broken Hearted Trouble". Later that year she moved with the small combo to crosstown rival Modern Records for #881 - "My Song" and "Gee It's Rough" and #888 - "Lonesome Train" and "Johnny Johnny Johnny". In March of 1953 Mari and The Three Blazers did one record for the Rhythm & Blues label #100 - "Too Bad" and "I Don't Know, Yes I Know" a duet with Lex Nelson. This was followed by two releases for Recorded In Hollywood : #409 - "There's No Greater Love" / "Driftin' Blues" and #425 - "Keep Cool" and "Blues In My Heart" as by Mauri Jones. In August Modern released a record from a year old session on #911 - "In The Home" / "Old Worries". In October the whole aggregation went on an extensive tour of Texas and the Southwest - Charles Brown, Mari Jones, and Johnny Moore's Three Blazers. Mari disappeared during the rock 'n' roll explosion in the mid fifties, but in the summer of 1956 a record surfaced on Tampa #117 - "Riba Daba Doo" and "Don't Cry" by Mari Jones.
Jewel King - In late 1949 records "3 X 7 = 21" and "Don't Marry Too Soon" for Imperial #5055. The record goes to number two in New Orleans. In March the follow up is #5061 - "Broke My Mother's Rule" / "I'll Get It", which does not sell much but Jewel's previous record is still selling. Two more Imperial releases follow in rapid order - #5076 : "Passion Blues" and "Keep Your Big Mouth Shut" and #5087 - "I Love A Fellow" / "Low Down Feeling". During the summer of 1951, Jewel King does a tour of one nighters through Texas , Oklahoma, and Louisiana.
Gladys Patrick - In January of 1954, Patrick known by the nickname "Glad Rags" signs with Central Records. She has one release for the label #1003 - "Somebody's Lying" and "I'm Gonna Stop". Patrick does some shows with performer and d.j. Steve Gallon in New Haven, Newark, and Philadelphia, and then is off to Detroit to play The Flame Show Bar with The Wanderers. In support of her Central recording Patrick plays The Sportsmen's Club in Pittsburgh and then on to dates in Nashville and St. Louis. The next year Patrick is signed to the MGM label. There are two record releases for Gladys Patrick on MGM : #55010 - "Unchain My Heart" / "The Blues" and #55015 - "Love Is A Waiting Thing" and "Somebody Please".
Pauline Rogers - The singer from Caldwell, New Jersey, had been discovered as a vocal talent while baby sitting for song writer Ralph Stein (very much like the discovery of Little Eva years later). She rehearsed and was a winner in the Coca Cola Spotlight Talent Search. This led to a recording session with a small New Jersey based label Original records, and Pauline was featured on #1000 (the label's debut) in mid 1954 with "Spinning The Blues" and "But Good". In March of the following year Original #1007 had Pauline singing "Look Who The Fool Is Now" and "You're All I Want". That summer Atlantic Records announces a new label to be called Atlas and Pauline Rogers is one of the first to be signed to record. Atlas becomes Atco records and Rogers is on the very first release for the new label, Atco #6050 - "You're Everything To Me" and "Up Till Now". In the fall Rogers plays the Midwest at The Flame Show Bar in Detroit and Gleason's in Cleveland. In the spring of 1956 Atco #6071 has Pauline doing a cover of Perry Como's pop hit "Round And Round" and "Come Into My Parlor". Late in the year Flair-X Records is formed in New York and hire Ralph Stein as A & R man for the label. In one of his first moves, he signs his former babysitter, Pauline Rogers to the label.
Florence Wright - In March of 1950 National #9105 features Florence singing "Imagination" and "Poor Butterfly". Her next release for the label elicits a lot of controversy. The song is "Pie In The Basket" and the introduction contains lyrics that are a bit explicit. Edited versions of the song are sent to radio stations and disc jockeys, but the complete intact versions are available for sale and in juke boxes. The song is on national #9118, and the flip side is "Real Gone Tune" with Errol Garner. In August of 1952, Wright now recording for Savoy Records, does an interesting R & B version of the Patti Page hit "I Went To Your Wedding" on Savoy #860 with backup by Hal Singer & his band.
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