Another Boogie Woogie Girl : Mabel Scott©2006JCMarion


Mabel Scott was born in Richmond, Virginia, in April of 1915. In 1921 she moved with her family to New York City where she began to sing in church and was soon part of a church choir at the Metropolitan Baptist Church called The Song Cycles. She turned to secular music at the age of sixteen and soon found work as a vocalist with Cab Calloway’s orchestra and appeared at the famed Cotton Club in Harlem with the band and the dancing Nicholas Brothers. By the time she was twenty one, she had moved to Cleveland, Ohio and was a vocalist with Bob Mosely with whom she traveled to England and made her first recordings for the British Parlophone label.

Because of the onset of World War II, Scott returned to the United States and moved once again, this time to Los Angeles and became a performer in many of the clubs along Central Avenue during the nineteen forties. Mosely returned to the band of Jack McVea. She appeared with Jimmie Lunceford’s band, with Wynonie “Mr. Blues” Harris, and Lorenzo Flennoy. Scott also appeared quite frequently at the Club Alabam with Johnny Otis. In 1946 she made her first American recording for the Hub label, and then on to Leon Rene’s Excelsior Records label. It was then that Mabel achieved her first success with “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” and “That Ain’t The Way To Love”. Another good seller was “Right Around The Corner” and “Elevator Boogie” on Exclusive # 1326. In 1949 Scott married her pianist, accomplished R & B stylist Charles Brown, which would last only until 1952.
In early January of 1950 Exclusive Records ceases operations and left in the lurch are masters recorded by Mabel Scott. By late March King Records announces the signinbg of Scott to their label and the first recordings are set to be released. Late that month Mabel stars at Birdland in New York. In April Scott signs on to a touring unit headed by Bull Moose Jackson and also featuring Dusty Fletcher that will tour the South and Midwest for six weeks. In late May after the tour Scott will appear at Café Society Downtown in New York with Teddy Wilson, Timmy Rogers, and J.C. Heard for an extended engagement. In early June King Records releases “Baseball Boogie” and “I Found My Baby” on # 4368. In mid August “Fine Fine Baby” and Have You Ever Watched Love Die” is issued by King Records on # 4386. In September Scott opens with Timmie Rogers and Gene Ammons in the Loop in Chicago. In October it is announced that Swing Time Records has purchased masters recorded by Mabel Scott for Exclusive Records and the label plans to re-issue “Santa Claus Boogie” / “That Ain’t The Way To Love” on #239 in time for the holiday season. In November “Willow Weep For Me” and “Disgusted” are released by King Records on # 4410.

In early 1951 it is apparent that Mabel Scott has not seen much success with King Records and so in late April she is let go by the Cincinnati label but is quickly signed to the Coral Records label, a subsidiary of Decca. In June Scott appears at the Royal Theater in Baltimore and then on to the Riviera Nightclub in St. Louis for an eight day stand. In July Mabel’s first recording for Coral Records is out – the interestingly titled song “Catch ‘Em Young, Treat ‘Em Rough, Tell ‘Em Nothing” and “No More Crying Blues” on # 65057. In September Coral issues “Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train” and “Somebody Goofed” on # 65063. In October Swing Time is again pushing their re-issue of Mabel Scott’s “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” from 1948. In November Scott returns to Chicago’s Regal Theater with Wynonie Harris and Gene “Jug” Ammons for great business for a week on stage.
In early 1952 Scott appears at the Lincoln Theater in Los Angeles with Pee Wee Crayton. She also makes a return appearance after many years to the Club Alabam in Watts. At this time she calls it quits with Charles Brown as husband and wife. In late April the latest record for Coral is released. The songs are “Yes!” and “Shut Eye” on # 60703. In September Scott hits the road again, this time with Tiny Bradshaw, for a series of one nighters in the Midwest. For the third year in a row Swing Time re-issues “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus”. In February of 1953, Decca moves Mabel Scott to their recently reactivated Brunswick label in a move putting their R & B musical talent to that label and concentrate on the pop field for the Coral label. In May Scott appears for a week at Chicago’s Club DeLisa. In early July Scott signs on for a ten week stay in Atlantic City at the Harlem Club. During the summer she leaves Decca and signs with Chicago independent label Parrot Records headed by Al Benson. “Mister Fine” released by Parrot gets decent sales and airplay in Chicago. The flip is “ Mabel Blues” and is on Parrot # 780 recorded with King Kolax. In October Scott is teamed with vocalist Arthur Prysock at the Regal Theater.

In January of 1954 Parrot Records releases “Fool Burro” and “Do The Thing”, again with the King Kolax combo on # 794. That month Mabel does a show with sax honker Joe Houston at Los Angeles Elks Club. Mabel Scott’s “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” originally recorded in 1948 lives on. The master was sold by Swing Time which had issued it every year since its acquisition in early 1950 has sold it to Hollywood Records and it will be released once more on # 1023. In April of 1955 Dootsie Williams announces the signing of Mabel Scott to his Dootone Records label, however no recordings were ever issued. Scott went on an extensive tour of Australia that year and recorded a few sides for Festival with the orchestra of Les Welch which accompanied her on the tour. Those were the last recordings Mabel Scott would ever make. Late in the year Hollywood Records announces that they are pairing Mabel Scott’s “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus” with Jimmy Witherspoon’s “How I Hate To See Christmas Come Around” on # 1023.
Mabel Scott became disillusioned with the music scene and the various business aspects, and was also troubled by another failed marriage. These factors led her to quit music and return to her gospel roots and the church – and there she remained for the next forty five years of her life. She passed away in relative obscurity in July of the year 2000.

Once again Europe comes to the rescue in keeping the music alive for so many of these forgotten performers. The French Jazz Classics label has two cds that chronicle the life and music of Mabel Scott. “The Chronological Mabel Scott : 1938 – 1950” and the second volume “The Chronological Mabel Scott : 1951 – 1955” has all of her recordings from the Parlophone side of 1938 to the final Australian tour tunes. Some of her tunes appear on many different compilation cds, but the complete story is on the two Classics volumes. Mabel Scott – perhaps the last of the “Boogie Woogie Girls”.

to next page . . . . . . .

back to title page . . . . .