That's All : The Casanovas©2005JCMarion


The Casanovas, like most all of the great R & B vocal groups of the forties and fifties, came from one of the two sources that provided the breeding ground for this music. One was the schools and neighborhoods of the urban areas of the country, and the others as in the case of The Casanovas, was from the music of the Black church in America. The quartet was from High Point, North Carolina, mostly known for the furniture industry. But in the late nineteen forties a group called The Jubilee Kings was a local favorite. They were so highly thought of that they secured a weekly radio program on local radio every Sunday evening. The group consisted of two sets of brothers - Willie and Frank McWilliams, and Chester and L.D. Mayfield. Their vocal career was interupted by the war in Korea, and three of the members were drafted into the army. After their service hitch was over, the quartet resumed their vocalizing and soon followed the lead of one of their favorite groups The 5 Royales. They had begun as the gospel group The Royal Sons, but soon turned to secular music and had great success as the Royales. Now the Jubilee Kings looked at that road to success and felt it was time to change their style of music.

In the spring of 1954, William Samuels who was releated to Lowman Pauling of the 5 Royales, heard some good things about this new vocal group now known as The Casanovas, from one of the travelling staff of the Royales. Samuels from nearby Winston-Salem, knew that Apollo Records in New York had favored R & B vocal groups from the state and soon contacted label head Bess Berman. The demo that Apollo Records received from The Casanovas with Chester Mayfield, was enough to give the group a shot at recording for the label. In early 1955 the group went to New York for a recording session that resulted in an April release of "That's All" and "Are You For Real?" on Apollo # 471. Hy Siegel was the producer and the ballad side "That's All" immediately got decent airplay especially on Alan Freed's radio show for WINS in New York. In late May the group recorded a second side for Apollo that was released in late June. The songs were "It's Been A Long Long Time" and the mysteriously named "Hush-A-Mecca" on # 474. In mid August the Casanovas third record for Apollo was released. It featured "I Don't Want You To Go" and "Please Be My Love" on Apollo # 477. The last record of the year for the group was released on December 17 and paired "Sleepy Head Mama" and "My Baby's Love" on # 483. Except for their initial recording of "That's All", none of the succeeding records by the group did not do much in sales after their release.

During 1956 the group was absent in the recording studio as they regrouped and tried to improve their market possibilities. During the summer of 1957 they tried with Apollo again with the release of "For You And You Alone" and "Please Be Mine" on Apollo # 519. The Casanovas had one last record on the Apollo label that was released without much notice in April of 1958. The songs were "You Are My Queen" and "Good Looking Baby" on # 523. By that time the day of the R & B vocal groups was on the wane as strings and vocal choruses were now being used to augment the sound and "modernize" it from its R & B roots, and the gospel founded Casanovas were not in high demand. They soon disbanded the group and went on their way becoming another footnote to the history of the music of America in the nineteen fifties. The beautiful and soulful sound of their first recording of "That's All" remains as one of the singular sounds of the time that is still today recalled with such affection.

"You Are My Queen" which is also known as "The Best Of The Casanovas" is available of a CD from Relic which features the twelve released cuts plus four unreleased songs for Apollo including an a capella version of "Listen To The Bells". The group is also featured on various Apollo compilation CDs and on an Apollo a capella audition CD.

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