Girl Singers

When I was a teenager, I came upon a record album in my parents’ huge LP collection, along with some cassette tapes and even some eight tracks. It was a Reader’s Digest multi-record album called The Swing Years. I can’t recall what made me pick it up and put it on the turntable but, when I did, it immediately made me smile. I soon became familiar with many of the great big bandleaders as well as their lead singers. I even got to hear (and meet!) Tex Beneke, Helen Forrest, Ray Eberle, and Helen O’Connell when they performed at the local summer music venues where I lived.  I even have a friend who plays trombone in one. To this day, swing and big band music hold a special place in my heart.

But what fascinated me most were the girl singers, those glamorous female singers who fronted the bands in a gorgeous dress.

Here were some of the big ones in no particular order:

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-Maria, with thanks to my co-worker, Tim, for previously mentioning FM 90.5 Rhythm Sweet & Hot, which plays music of the swing era on Saturdays from 6-8pm.


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14 responses to “Girl Singers

  1. e

    Great post!~ Rhythm Sweet and Hot is brilliant. Mike and Dale are treasures, no doubt!

  2. My daughter’s viola teacher used to tell us stories of his days with Les Brown and Doris day. You make me miss my father, who played his trumpet with an Indianapolis band. My mother was the female singer. Sometimes my dad was the male singer. They never stopped making music. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

  3. Suzi W.

    love love Rhythm Sweet and Hot! And wow, thanks for the slide show, those are some glamorous ladies!

  4. Val Sanford

    Reblogged this on Sotto Voce and commented:
    Fantastic reminder of the joy of great music. My folks liked big band music and all the soulful crooners. I still remember playing String of Pearls in Jr. High Band. What a horrible tribute we must delivered but it was fun to play. And I thank all the parents in the audience who knew what it was supposed to sound like and applauded anyway.

  5. Dale A.

    Great stuff! Funny story: We fielded an RS&H complaint a few years ago from a listener. She highly objected to our use of the term “girl singers”, feeling that it demeaned women.

    In today’s world perhaps she is right. However, you correctly use the proper term. This is what the female vocalists were called (and the men were “boy singers”). On radio broadcasts, the leader would say “…and now, let’s hear from our girl singer….”

    In some cases, these singers were “girls” by ANY definition. Durelle Alexander, for instance, was 15 y.o. when she sang for Paul Whiteman in 1935. Anne Shelton was 13 in 1940 (Bert Ambrose).

    We responded sensitively to the woman, but I doubt she saw it our way!

    More great ones: Dolly Dawn (George Hall), Dolores O’Neill (Bob Chester), Ella Fitzgerald (Chick Webb), Helen Humes (Count Basie)….goodness! I could go on and on!!! Thanks, Maria.

  6. I really enjoy reading your posts.

  7. Very interesting to look at music from another time, and these female singers!

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