Two For The Show ©1999JCMarion
Here are two female performers who were part of the R & B scene from the late 40s into the 50s, without ever really hitting the big time. However, they performed their music on stage and on record, and became an important part of the passing show and for that we remember them.
Annisteen Allen - Allen is vocalist with the Lucky Milinder band in 1949, and opens 1950 as part of a touring R & B show with Big John Greer, Wynonie Harris, and the Millinder band. The show ends up with a week at Baltimore's Royal Theater. The next month Allen plays a week at Chicago's Regal Theater with the Hot Lips Page band. In July RCA #20-088 features Lucky Millinder's band with Annisteen Allen on vocal on "Let It Be" and Paul Breckenridge doing the vocal on the flip side of "Sweet Slumber" a reprise of Millinder's big hit of 1944 (with a Trevor Bacon vocal).
In January of 1951, Ralph Bass A & R man for Federal Records signs the whole Lucky Millinder Orchestra to the label. The plan is to feature Annisteen's vocals on Federal, and the band and other singers on the King releases. In March they record for the parent label King #4436 - "The Jumping Jack" and "Mister Trumpet Man" vocal by Allen. At almost the same time Federal #12012 is released - "Lies Lies Lies" and "Cloudy Day Blues" with Annisteen featured on both sides. In May again on King - #4453 - "I'm Waiting Just For You" vocal by Allen and John Carroll, and "Bongo Boogie" with solo vocal by Allen. A month later Federal #12020 features Annisteen Allen's vocals on "Hard To Get Along" and "Too Long". In September the Lucky Millinder band records "No One Else Could Be" with vocals by Annisteen and Melvin Moore, and "The Grape Vine" with vocal by Melvin Moore.
In 1953, all of Annisteen Allen's recordings are moved to the King label. The first release of the year is #4608 - "Yes I Know" and "Baby I'm Doing It" an answer record to the 5 Royales big R & B hit of "Baby Don't Do It". In May #4622 - "Trying To Live Without You" / "My baby Keeps Rollin'" is released. In October Apollo Records sues King for copyright infringement over Annisteen Allen's answer record "Baby I'm Doing It". Early in 1954 Annisteen Allen records "Down By The River" and "I Don't Want A Substitute" on King # 4691. During the summer King does not renew Allen's contract and she is signed by Capitol Records. In October her first for the new label Capitol # 2937 - "Take A Chance On Me" / "No More Lovin'". Annisteen does a tour of one nighters with The Orioles and Joe Morris and his Blues Cavalcade. The tour winds up with a weekend at the Howard Theater in Washington D.C. At year's end, Capitol # 3000 is released - "I've Got Troubles" and "Nothing Can Replace You".
In February of 1955, Capitol releases "Fujiyama Mama" and "Wheels Of Love" on # 3048. The record immediately takes off with its novelty approach to the modern sound and quickly there appears a pop cover version of "Fujiyama" done by Eileen Barton for Coral. The follow up is on # 3161 - "Mine All Mine" and "I'm Still In Love With You". In July Annisteen Allen takes part in the big Hal Jackson R & B Revue at the Apollo Theater in New York, then heads to Philadelphia for a stint at Pep's. Soon after, Annisteen Allen fades from the music scene.
Wini Brown-Wini recorded for National records in 1949, and was called the "It" Girl (shades of Clara Bow !) in advertisements for the record company. Early in 1950 #9102 was released. It paired "He's My Daddy" and "The Sun's Gotta Shine Again". In March Wini Brown was featured at New York's Bop City with The Ravens and Doc Sausage and his combo. When the show moves to the Philadelphia branch of Bop City, the show is augmented by the addition of Amos Milburn. In June Wini takes part in a show with Herb Lance and Earl Bostic which opens a new club circuit based in Memphis that previously had been for Whites only. In July Wini shares the stage at Chicago's Regal Theater with Nat Cole, and then rejoins Earl Bostic for a national tour of one nighters. In September Columbia records, looking to bolster their R & B line, signs Wini Brown, The Ravens, Herb Lance, and Arnett Cobb. In November Wini's first side for Columbia # 39041 - "This Is The Last Time" and "A Good Man Is Hard To Find" is issued.
In January of 1951, Wini records with the Dick Vance Orchestra on Columbia #39119 - "Was It Really Like That?" and "We're Supposed To Be Through". In March Brown is appearing in the Northeast with the Joe Thomas orchestra. Columbia moves Wini to its Okeh label, but before anything takes place she is signed by Mercury Records. She spends the rest of the year concentrating on in person appearances. In March of 1952, Mercury # 8270 - "Be Anything But Be Mine" and "Heaven Knows Why" is released as by Wini Brown & Her Boy Friends. The backing group on this record is reported to be The Ravens. Wini then embarks on a tour with the Ravens and Burnie Peacock's Orchestra. They end the tour at D.C.'s Howard Theater and then settle in for a six week stay at Cinncinati's Cotton Club. Brown's recording of Eddie Howard's pop hit "Be Anything" does well, the best showing of any record she has done, which leads to a week long show at Philadelphia's Earle Theater. Mercury # 9167 pairs "Here In My Heart" and "Your Happiness Is Mine" once again as Wini Brown & Her Boy Friends, and once again covering a pop hit-this time Al Martino's "Here In My Heart".
Wini spends the July 4th weekend in Atlantic City appearing with the Five Keys and Piney Brown. In August she begins a two month long tour of the Southern states with The Swallows, Lil' Miss Sharecropper, H-Bomb Ferguson, and the Todd Rhodes band. In February of 1953 Wini Brown with Earl Bostic play the very last show at Philadelphia's Earle Theater. Long a showcase for R & B talent in the Black community, the building will be converted into a department store. That summer Wini goes back on tour, this time with Tiny Bradshaw, The Inkspots, and Cootie Williams and his band. The following February Mercury # 70062 features "Tear Down The Sky" and "Can't Stand No More". In early April Wini opens a stand at Cinncinati's Cotton Club with Lionel Hampton and his orchestra. The next mention of Wini Brown is the announcement in April of 1956 that she has been signed to New York's Baton records. In early 1957 Wini is lead vocalist with the Cootie Williams band appearing at New York's Apollo Theater and is signed to RCA Victor Records. In July Wini Brown and Larry dale do vocals with the Cootie Williams band on the tunes "It'a All In Your Mind" and "Available Lover" on RCA #6690. late in the year a vocal with the Lionel Hampton band features Wini on the tune "Gone Again" on Decca #30412. Wini Brown, a great vocalist for a decade now enters the ninereen sixties and soon is gone from the scene.
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