Ursala Reed : Forgotten Moments ©1999 JCMarion


Ursala Reed was discovered by band leader and R & B arranger Joe Morris when she was a promising sixteen year old singer hoping to go out on her own in the music business. Her first big break came as part of the New Year's Eve, 1953 show in New York City. The show was a combination of R & B and modern jazz performers that included Thelonius Monk, J.J. Johnson & His All Star Combo, The Orioles, and the Joe Morris Blues Cavalcade with whom Ursala vocalized. She appeared intermittently with the Joe Morris band for much of the year. Her very first record session did not take place until mid 1954 when the new Old Town label paired her with the label's new singing group The Solitaires on #1001 (the label's second release) and "Ursala's Blues" and "You're Laughing Cause I'm Crying". In late September of that year Reed records for Herald Records, the label that Morris had moved to after leaving Atlantic. Their first release for the label was #440 - "Tying Up The Time" and "Blue And Lonely". Ursala goes out on the road with the touring Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame Show which does a series of one nighters throughout the Midwest. Besides Morris and his band which also features Al Savage and Faye Adams, The Orioles, Amos Milburn, and The Spiders are part of the show. The tour stops in Chicago and becomes part of the "Jam With Sam" show with local deejay Sam Evans.

During 1955 Ursala continues to be part of the Joe Morris company touring the country and recording. In March Herald #444 is released. The songs are "All Gone" and "You Hurt My Pride". Ursala Reed as a recording artist does not do well nationally and so Herald drops her and Joe Morris follows suit. They continue to tour and make in person appearances throughout the country, and by the latter half of the year find themselves on Imperial Records in Los Angeles. Imperial #5371 is issued late in the year as by Joe and Ursala, and the songs are "The Good Book" and "Let's Face It". The following year finds Ursala continuing on with Joe Morris and his band. They join Charlie & Ray, The Diabolos, and Manhattan Paul for a week's stay in Cleveland in March. During the summer a touring unit consisting of Joe, Ursala, and singer Larry Birdsong embarks on a series of one nighters in the South including an extended stay at The Palms in South Florida. Reed continues for a few months into 1957 with Morris, but by now she has realized that the music world has greatly changed and that her possibility of success is severely limited by the new Elvis / American Bandstand driven 'latest things'. Not too much more is heard from Ursala Reed, and in less than two years Joe Morris would pass away. But - the evidence remains - Ursala Reed was a part of the passing parade during the R & B fifties.

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