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Thursday, 25 May 2017

Pha Terrell born 25 May 1910

Elmer "Pha" Terrell (May 25, 1910 in Kansas City, Missouri - October 14, 1945 in Los Angeles) was an American jazz singer with a smooth, mellow baritone, but was also capable of singing in falsetto, a popular feature among the singers of the time.
Pha Terrell, (pronounced Fay) sometimes known to his friends as Elmer, was discovered by Kirk in the early '30s while toiling as a combination of dancer, singer, and semi-hustler at a Kansas City club. Terrell sang with the Kirk band between 1933 and 1941.
Available recordings by this singer can basically be evenly split between Kirk collections and various compilations based on themes such as early R&B and the Kansas City scene. His biggest hit with the Kirk outfit was the patient "Until the Real Thing Comes Along" in 1936. and 1938's "I Won't Tell a Soul (I Love You)".

In addition to his first number one hit in 1936, was the song "All the Jive Is Gone" from 1937, this was probably Terrell's best performance. Willfried Wald spoke critically about the high tenors of the Swingara, such as Dan Grissom and Pha Terrell, "who replaced the influences of blues and jazz with something that sounded like a hiss with an open mouth, and on the genuine, but not at all, unpleasant tradition of black falset singing ".  A follower of Terrell's singing style was the young Earl Coleman.

The character of Andy Kirk’s Clouds of Joy would change in the 40’s when Mary Lou Williams left, followed by the departure of Pha Terrell. He headed for Indianapolis, at that time a thriving jazz centre. He worked there in Clarence Love's Orchestra, often tying knots in whatever strings of one-nighters were available to this type of territory band. Like just about any stand-up singer, Terrell eventually decided to go it alone, a career move that in his case he made out on the West Coast. A kidney ailment took him down when he was just getting started. And he died of kidney failure in Los Angeles,1945.

(There is very scant info on the web. This bio mainly edited from All Music & Wikipedia)

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Sylvester Ahola born 24 May 1902

Sylvester Ahola (May 24, 1902 – February 13, 1995) was a classic jazz trumpeter and cornetist born in Gloucester, Massachusetts. He became most popular in England rather than the United State. He has played the trumpet on 2,000 records and been part of fifty orchestras and jazz bands.
Sylvester was one of the great musicians during a unique period in American musical culture-from the growth of jazz through the Depression to the development of commercial radio. After a classical training, Ahola's prolific recording career among the top bands of the age, in both America and England, was a tribute to the skill and mastery of his chosen instrument. His career as a first-rate studio musician found him equally at ease with classical trumpet solos, light orchestral music, popular dance band tunes, and in groups accompanying such great singers as Paul Robeson and Sophie Tucker.
He was also responsible, in no small way, for establishing a style of "hot" jazz-flavored playing among emerging British dance bands. His, however, is a story of anonymity.
He was known as "Hooley," came from a Finnish family, and began playing drums at the ripe age of six, graduating to blowing cornet and trumpet a few years later. He would continue doubling on the two horns throughout his career, becoming known for a vivid soloing style that put him in the same technical league as much more famous trumpeters, such as his two main models, Bix Beiderbecke and Red Nichols.
Ahola cut his first recordings under the auspices of bandleader Frank E. Ward in 1924, but these tracks were never released commercially. The trumpeter then joined Paul Specht's Orchestra in the outset of 1926, staying in this group a year before joining the Ed Kirkeby band. Ahola then made his earliest recordings of any renown with the California Ramblers. From there, he stayed with Peter Van Steeden's orchestra until late 1927 when he was hired to sail to England and play with the Savoy Orpheans.
This may not have been a job with a bearded lifespan, but the accomplished Ahola had no trouble finding trumpet-blowing gigs all around London. His talents included the ability to lead a horn section as well as blow good solos. Ahola was heard in the Jack Harris band before picking up a somewhat more high-profile trumpet seat in the Ambrose Orchestra in late 1928. Throughout the late '20s he was frequently working in recording studios, cutting sides with the studio bands at labels such as Zonophone, where he worked with the conducting brothers Bert and John Firman. He also collaborated with music director Arthur Lally at Decca sessions. He remained with Ambrose into the summer of 1931 in a job that, like the various studio bands, featured a mixture of British, European, and American players. 
 The same players overlapped on a half-dozen band busses. Americans such as guitarist Joe Brannelly and reed player Perley Breed joined up with Ambrose at the same time as the British jazzman Ted Heath. Also in 1928, Ahola was playing with Reg Batten & His New Savoy Orpheans with Irving Brodsky on piano. In 1929, Ahola was featured with Ray Noble & His Orchestra in the trumpet feature "Copper Blues," one of the only forms of copper that doesn't leave a bad taste in the mouth.
In 1931, the trumpeter showed up back in the United States in order to play with Van Steeden once again. A few recording sessions with Ed Kirkeby in the early '30s represent his last brass words recorded for posterity, an Ahola that pretty much means aloha. He joined the NBC staff orchestra along with colleague Jacques Renard and continued with this type of work until retiring in 1940.
At this point he returned to his home town on the New England seaside, becoming so closely associated with the town that he became known as the "Gloucester Gabriel." He played both trumpet and percussion with the Cape Ann Symphony Orchestra in his final years. Aloha's best recordings include the tracks "So Does Your Old Mandarin," a frightening pun, and "Crazy World, Crazy Tune," an inevitable conclusion. The second of two Rhythmic Eight reissues on the Mello label has a whopping portion of top-form Ahola, fine examples of the trumpeter's work in tandem with arranger Lally. A biography of Ahola was published as part of the Studies in Jazz at the Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers State University.
Ahola died  February 13, 1995 in Lanesville, Essex County, Massachusetts.
 (Info mainly All Music also intro to Dick Hills autobiography -The Gloucester Gabriel (Studies in Jazz)

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Libby Holman born 23 May 1904

Elizabeth Lloyd Holzman, best known as Libby Holman (May 23, 1904 – June 18, 1971), was an American torch singer and stage actress who also achieved notoriety for her complex and unconventional personal life.
Elizabeth Lloyd Holzman was born May 23, 1904, in Cincinnati, Ohio to a Jewish lawyer and stockbroker, Alfred Holzman and his wife, Rachel Florence Workum Holzman. Their other children were daughter Marion H. Holzman and son Alfred Paul Holzman.
In 1904, the wealthy family grew destitute after Holman's uncle Ross Holzman embezzled nearly $1 million of their stock brokerage business. At some point, Alfred changed the family name from Holzman to Holman. She graduated from Hughes High School on June 11, 1920, at the age of 16. She attended the University of Cincinnati where she graduated from on June 16, 1923, with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Holman later subtracted two years from her age, insisting she was born in 1906, the year she gave the Social Security Administration as the year of her birth.
In the summer of 1924, Holman left for New York City, where she first lived at the Studio Club. Her first theatre job in New York was in the road company of The Fool. Channing Pollock, the writer of The Fool, recognized Holman's talents immediately and advised her to pursue a theatrical career.
She followed Pollock's advice and soon became a star. An early stage colleague who became a longtime close friend was future film star Clifton Webb, then a dancer. He gave her the nickname, "The Statue of Libby." Her Broadway theatre debut was in the play The Sapphire Ring in 1925 at the Selwyn Theatre, which closed after thirteen performances. She was billed as Elizabeth Holman.
She played minor roles in Broadway musicals such as Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart’s The Garrick Gaieties (1925), but became a featured star in Merry-Go-Round (1927), and Rainbow (1928), in which she gave a languorous performance of ‘I Want A Man’.
Her big break came while she was appearing with Clifton Webb and Fred Allen in the 1929 Broadway revue The Little Show, in which she first sang the blues number, "Moanin' Low" by Ralph Rainger, which earned her a dozen curtain calls on opening night, drew raves from the critics and became her signature song. Also in that show, she sang the Kay Swift and Paul James song, "Can't We Be Friends?" After making the US Top 10 in 1929 with ‘Am I Blue?’, she was acclaimed a major star. Holman received rave reviews for her sultry renditions of ‘Body And Soul’ and ‘Something To Remember Me By’ in Three’s A Crowd (1930).
One of Holman's signature looks was the strapless dress, which she has been credited with having invented, or at least being one of its first high-profile wearers.

Her career declined following the shooting of her husband Zachary Smith Reynolds. She was accused of his murder but the case was declared nolle prosequi, and never came to court.
Holman returned to Broadway in Revenge With Music (1934), in which she introduced Arthur Schwartz and Howard Dietz’s insinuating ‘You And The Night And The Music’, and subsequently appeared in Cole Porter’s You Never Know (1938). Sadly, she never achieved her former heights.
During the early 40s she caused a furore by appearing as a double-act with black folk singer Josh White, playing clubs and concerts in an era when a black male and white female stage relationship was frowned upon by many bookers and critics.
Holman continued touring during the 50s presenting a programme called Blues, Ballads And Sin Songs, but still controversy followed her when she befriended ill-fated screen idol, Montgomery Clift. One of her last performances was at the United Nations in New York in 1966. She performed her trademark song, "Moanin' Low."
For many years, Holman reportedly suffered from depression from the combined effects of the deaths of President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the recent presidential election loss by Eugene McCarthy, her anguish over the untimely death of her own son and the illness and rapid deterioration of her friend Jane Bowles. She also was considered never the same after the death of Montgomery Clift in 1966.

On June 18, 1971, Holman was found nearly dead in the front seat of her Rolls Royce by her household staff. She was taken to the hospital where she died hours later. Holman's death was officially ruled a suicide due to acute carbon monoxide poisoning. In view of her frequent bouts with depression and reported past suicide attempts, none of Holman's friends or relatives was surprised by her death. She was cremated and her ashes scattered at “Treetops,”  (Info edited from Wikipedia & All Music)

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Horace Heidt born 21 May 1901

Horace Heidt (May 21, 1901–December 1, 1986) was an American pianist, big band leader, and radio and television personality. His band, Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights, toured vaudeville and performed on radio and television through the 1930s and 1940s.
Born in Alameda, California. He obtained a good education, studied piano as a boy, attended Culver Military Academy and while playing football for the University of California at Berkeley, he sustained a back injury ending his football career. Horace began entertaining playing the piano culminating in the formation of his own band, Horace Heidt and His Californians in 1922. By 1929 the band had achieved national recognition and in the mid 1930’s had its first radio broadcast.
From 1932 to 1953, he was one of the more popular radio bandleaders, heard on both NBC and CBS in a variety of different formats over the years. He began on the NBC Blue Network in 1932 with Shell Oil's Ship of Joy and Answers by the Dancers. During the late 1930s on CBS he did Captain Dobbsie's Ship of Joy and Horace Heidt's Alemite Brigadeers before returning to NBC for 1937-39 broadcasts.

 Singer Matt Dennis got his start with Heidt's band, and Art Carney as the band's singing comedian. The Heidt band's recordings were highly-successful with "Gone with the Wind" going to No. 1 in 1937 and "Ti-Pi-Tin" to No. 1 in 1938. In 1939, "The Man with the Mandolin" ranked No. 2 on the charts.

His NBC Pot o' Gold radio show (1939–41) was the basis for a 1941 film of the same title. Produced by James Roosevelt (son of the U.S. president) and directed by George Marshall, the film starred James Stewart and Paulette Goddard, and it featured Heidt portraying himself with his band. Carney can be glimpsed in some of the film's musical numbers. The movie gives a fairly accurate
depiction of Heidt's radio show but features staged sequences, such as a scene in which a Minnesota farmer (allegedly phoned at random by Heidt during his radio show) is played by well-known character actor John Qualen.
From 1940–44 he did Tums Treasure Chest, followed by 1943–45 shows on the Blue Network. Lucky Strike sponsored The American Way on CBS in 1953.
On December 7, 1947, NBC launched The Horace Heidt Youth Opportunity Program and accordionist Dick Contino, the first winner of the $5,000 prize, soon had his own show. Heidt's talent search catapulted such performers as Art Carney, Frankie Carle, Gordon MacRae, the King Sisters, Alvino Rey, Frank DeVol and Al Hirt. When the program expanded from radio to television in 1950, it was one of the first talent shows on TV. Other winners included the Philharmonics and vocalist Ralph Sigwald.
Heidt was often considered a tyrant by his musicians. He would dismiss almost any one of them in an instant if he felt like it. Alyce King discovered this one night when she knocked over a microphone during a radio program. Heidt's orchestra had been chosen for the show on the strength of King's vocals, and Heidt felt upstaged. He used the opportunity of her clumsiness to fire her. Heidt, however, also encouraged his staff to fraternize. Though designed to promote togetherness the strategy backfired on this occasion. When King left so did all her sisters and their musician boyfriends, including Rey.
With fame, Heidt moved into the then-new Brentwood
neighbourhood of West Los Angeles at 1525 San Vicente Boulevard. He bought the mansion from the widow of a retired dentist, which offered stunning views of Santa Monica Canyon, overlooking the Riviera Country Club and Catalina Island on a clear day. The expansive chateau-style residence, featured in 1927 on the cover of the rotogravure magazine Pictorial California, has long since been razed and the property subdivided.
Heidt was from his college days an astute show-business entrepreneur making many shrewd investments. He purchased the West Coast Trianon Ballroom booking many famous entertainers including Louis Armstrong and Jack Teagarden. His financial base was involved, diverse and very successful.

He chose to retire from show business and devote his entire time to running his ventures. He even started "The Horace Heidt School for Stammering", very relative because he had suffered from this very speech affliction which he corrected by sheer tenacity. Residing in Sherman Oaks, California, he continued operating a real estate business in the San Fernando Valley until his death at age eighty five. Admitted to a Los Angeles hospital, he died from pneumonia complications December 1, 1986.   (Info edited mainly from Wikipedia & Solid!)

Hot Lips performed on Family Night Hosted By Horace Heidt Featuring Al Hirt, Red Nichols, and Pete Candoli.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Gil Garfield born 20 May 1933

Gil Garfield (May 20, 1933 - Jan 01, 2011) was a singer, songwriter, producer and a former member of the 1950s vocal group The Cheers.
Gilbert I. Garfield was born May 20, 1933, in Los Angeles to Harriet and Harold Garfield. His father owned a chain of drugstores throughout Los Angeles and later expanded his business into real estate. Gil graduated from North Hollywood High School and was a business major at USC.
While in college, he began singing in area nightclubs. He was encouraged to record, and he eventually formed the Cheers in 1954 with fellow singers Sue Allen and Bert Convy, who became known as an actor and game-show host.
The Cheers recorded a Top 10 single, Leiber & Stoller's "Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots," in 1955. The trio hit the Billboard charts again with Leiber & Stoller's "Bazoom! I Need Your Lovin'," and they recorded several demos of other Leiber & Stoller tunes.

"(Bazoom) I Need Your Lovin'." hit number three on the U.S. chart in 1954. This was the first hit written by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller to chart on the Pop charts in the United States, and was one of the first rock and roll hits by a white group (after The Crew Cuts and Bill Haley and the Comets).
The Cheers disbanded in 1957. Gil then became a freelance songwriter and publisher who joined forces friend Perry Botkin Jr. to form a publishing company called Rock Music Inc., on Vine Street. The two men wrote several songs together of which the most successful was “Passion Flower.” Their own recording of it with the Fraternity Brothers charted at number 3 in Italy during 1958 and the song was also a success in France under the title “Tout L’Amour.” During the 60’s Garfield & Botkin and others, including Harry Nilsson, collaborated on words and music on such recordings as "Wonderful Summer," by Robin Ward, and "Paradise" by the Ronettes.
By the 70’s Garfield & Botkin sold their Rock Music Inc. catalogue, including virtually all of Nilsson’s early songs for $150,000 to Beechwood, the publishing arm of capitol Records.
Gil & Suzanne Garfield
In 1971, Gil and his sister Suzanne Garfield invented the "Pan-T-Boot." As Time described, the "Pan-T-Boot" was "a girdle, stretch pants, hosiery, and shoes all rolled into one." The Pan-T-Boot was offered in a series of bold monochromatic colours and floral prints—much like those designed by Gvasalia. They reportedly sold out as soon as they hit the shelves in New York City.
Garfield then became successful in real estate, refurbishing and reselling houses, later in the 90’s turning to painting and collecting contemporary art.
 In 2002 Garfield had a liver transplant and was a generous supporter of the Dumont UCLA Liver Transplant Centre and the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center.
Gil died at The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles after a long battle with cancer. He was 77. He was completing a semi-autobiographical musical at the time of his death. 

(Info very scant but comprised from various sources)

Monday, 15 May 2017

Norrie Paramor born 15 May 1914

Norrie Paramor (15 May 1914 – 9 September 1979) was a British pianist, orchestrator, arranger and orchestral conductor. As musical director for EMI/Columbia from 1952, Paramor produced albums in varied genres, from swing to rock n' roll, to 'easy listening' music.
Norrie studied piano and worked as an accompanist, prior to playing and arranging with a number of London dance bands, among them Maurice Winnick's Orchestra. During his time in the RAF during World War II, Paramor entertained servicemen in the company of artists such as Sidney Torch and Max Wall, served as a musical director for Ralph Reader's Gang Shows, and scored music for Noel Coward, Mantovani and Jack Buchanan. After the war he was the featured pianist with Harry Gold And His Pieces Of Eight, and toured with the lively Dixieland unit for five years.
In 1950 he recorded some sides for the Oriole label with Australian singer Marie Benson, and in 1952 was appointed recording director of the UK EMI Columbia label in 1952. His earliest hits as a producer were with trumpeter Eddie Calvert, who had a million seller in 1953 with "O Mein Papa," and who had the most successful UK cover of "Cherry Pink and Apple Blossom White" in 1955. Although the term 'producer' was not in frequent circulation at the time Paramor started producing records (the usual term being 'Artiste and Repertoire Manager' or 'A&R Man')
Norrie jumped on the lush strings bandwagon in the mid-1950s, producing a series of albums such as "Amor, Amor" and "Jet Flight." Paramor's are among the easiest of all easy-listening albums--he maintains a smooth surface of sound from cut to cut, disturbed by the barest of accents. He recorded one of the biggest selling albums from Capitol Records' "Capitol of the World" import series: In London in Love, which featured the floating voice of the soprano Patricia Clark, who was used in many subsequent selling albums. This became his trademark orchestral signature sound.
Theme From a Summer Place which features vocals from Patricia   Clark, charted in March 1960 in the UK & peaked at #36.
Paramor produced the first British rock-n-roll single, "Teach You to Rock," by Tony Crombie and his Rockets. Although Paramor clearly preferred mainstream pop to rock, he had a hard time avoiding it. He brought out the first recordings by teen idol Cliff Richard, and produced a long string of EPs and LPs by Richard' backing band, The Shadows. He contributed a number of The
Norrie Paramour with Cliff Richard & the Drifters in 1958

Shadows' best songs, including "Frightened City." He produced many of the British pop stars of the 1950s and early 1960s, such as Ruby Murray, Eddie Calvert, Michael Holliday, Helen Shapiro, Frank Ifield, the Mudlarks, the Avons, Billy Fury and Ricky Valance among others.
He also wrote soundtracks for several British films,  including Serious Charge (1959), Expresso Bongo (1959), The Young Ones (1961). He also composed music for several films,  The Frightened City (1961) and The Fast Lady (1962).
In 1968, he was the musical director for the Eurovision Song Contest, staged at the Royal Albert Hall, the first to be broadcast in colour. He also conducted the UK entry, "Congratulations", performed by Cliff Richard. After leaving EMI in the late 1960s, Paramor continued to record occasional easy-listening string albums. In 1977 Paramor and his orchestra recorded with The Shadows for a final time with the track, "Return to the Alamo".
From 1972-78 Paramor was the Director of the BBC Midland Radio Orchestra, but he continued to dabble in independent production for acts such as the Excaliburs, and his publishing company was still finding material for Cliff in the 70s.
Paramor died of cancer on 9 September 1979. His death came a couple of weeks after his protégé, Richard, returned to the top of the UK Singles Chart with "We Don't Talk Anymore", his first number one single in over ten years. Paramor and Richard had worked together professionally from 1958 to 1972.
Sadly, despite his track record of success as a producer, he died in obscurity without receiving any public recognition of success from any British institution. (Info edited mainly from from Wikipedia & Spaceage Pop)

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Troy Shondell born 14 May 1940

Gary Wayne Schelton (May 14, 1939 – January 7, 2016), known by his stage name Troy Shondell, was an American vocalist, who achieved a modicum of fame and recognition in the early 1960s. He became a transatlantic one-hit wonder, by releasing a single that made the record charts in both the US and the UK. The song, "This Time" or sometimes billed as "This Time (We're Really Breaking Up)" sold over one million records, earning gold disc status. In a single year, sales were over three million copies.
Troy Shondell was born in 1939, raised in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and educated at Valparaiso and Indiana universities. He wrote his first song at age 14, which was recorded by Little Anthony & the Imperials. He also learned to play five musical instruments. His professional music career started as a teenager. Mercury Records released his first single, "My Hero", from The Chocolate Soldier, which he recorded in 1958 under the name Gary Shelton, which was close to his real name, Gary Schelton.
He followed the next year with "Kissin' at the Drive-In", a rockabilly song that went on to become a drive-in theater standard. Still performing as Gary Shelton, he seemed to be on his way, at least in the Midwest. Chicago's Brass Rail, a major nightclub that usually hosted jazz and blues acts, brought him in for its first foray into rock and roll. The successful gig stretched to 16 weeks.
 In 1959, Mark Records released "The Trance" and "Goodbye Little Darlin'". These sold well in the Midwest and a few other areas, but neither made it into the Hot 100's Top 40. The singer cited his father as a major influence, among others. A song he wrote about his father's death in 1960 from a heart attack, "Still Loving You", became a country hit when it was recorded by Bob Luman. His father's demise caused his career to falter, and he briefly returned to help run the family business.

Around this time, he began using a new stage name, Troy Shondell, partly because of the popularity of actor Troy Donahue. In April 1961, he recorded "This Time", a song written by Chips Moman and first recorded by Thomas Wayne. The record was released during the last week in June on the tiny Gaye label and picked up by the small Los Angeles Goldcrest label, selling ten thousand copies during the first week. Six weeks after being released and played in Chicago, Shondell flew to Los Angeles and signed with Liberty Records. "This Time"‎ finally hit the Billboard charts the third week of September and landed in the Top 10 five weeks later at its number six peak, and it stayed in the charts for a total of thirteen weeks. The track reached no. 22 in the UK Singles Chart at the end of that year.
"Tears From An Angel" was his follow-up recording, released in March 1962. No further chart action was forthcoming, and Shondell quietly slipped away from the music industry the following year, despite his third single "Na-Ne-No", being produced by Phil Spector. However, in 1963, Tommy Jackson changed the name of his high school band from "Tom and the Tornados" to "The Shondells" in honour of Shondell (one of his musical idols). Jackson became "Tommy James" and international fame followed for the act.
Troy Shondell & The Shondells
Chicago band the Ides of March originally named themselves the Shon-dells, also in tribute to Troy. Shortly before their debut single, "You Wouldn't Listen", was released, the label found out that James had been using the name first, so they were forced to change it. In 1968, Shondell became a songwriter for Acuff-Rose Music in Nashville, Tennessee, and the first recording artist for TRX Records, a branch of Hickory Records, for whom Troy recorded some gramophone record discs until 1969, when he went into the music publishing field. In October 1969, he was appointed as Assistant Regional Director for ASCAP's Southern Regional Office in Nashville.
At the turn of the new millennium, Shondell was still performing at nostalgia shows and other events. From his home in Nashville, he also composed and produced. Along with Jimmy Clanton, Ronnie Dove, and Ray Peterson, he was a member of the Masters of Rock 'n' Roll.
On October 2, 2007, he travelled to Collins, Mississippi, to deliver a musical tribute to his fallen rock and roll colleague Dale Houston, who, with musical partner Grace Broussard, had reached no. 1 in 1963 with "I'm Leaving It Up to You" as the musical duo Dale & Grace.
Shondell died from complications of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease in Picayune, Mississippi on January 7, 2016. (Info mainly Wikipedia)

Here's Troy live on the TV show "Rockin' at the Palace" in 1989.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Maxine Sullivan born 13 May 1911

Maxine Sullivan (May 13, 1911 – April 7, 1987), born Marietta Williams in Homestead, Pennsylvania, was an American jazz vocalist and performer.
As a vocalist, Maxine Sullivan was active for half a century, from the mid-1930s to just before her death in 1987. She is best known for her 1937 recording of a swing version of the Scottish folk song
"Loch Lomond". Throughout her career, Sullivan also appeared as a performer on film as well as on stage. A precursor to better-known later vocalists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Sarah Vaughan, Maxine Sullivan is considered one of the best jazz vocalists of the 1930s.
Sullivan began her music career singing in her uncle's band, The Red Hot Peppers, in her native Pennsylvania, in which she occasionally played the flugelhorn and the valve trombone, in addition to singing. In the mid 1930s she was discovered by Gladys Mosier (then working in Ina Ray Hutton's big band). Mosier introduced her to Claude Thornhill, which led to her first recordings made in June 1937. Shortly thereafter, Sullivan became a featured vocalist at the Onyx Club in New York City. During this period, she began forming a professional and close personal relationship with bassist John Kirby, who became her second husband in 1938.
Early sessions with Kirby in 1937 yielded a hit recording of a swing version of the Scottish folk song "Loch Lomond" featuring Sullivan on vocals. This early success "branded" Sullivan's style, leading her to sing similar swing arrangements of traditional folk tunes mostly arranged by pianist Claude Thornhill, such as "If I Had a Ribbon Bow" and "I Dream of Jeanie". Her early popularityalso led to a brief appearance in the movie Going Places with Louis Armstrong.
In 1940, Sullivan and Kirby were featured on the radio program Flow Gently Sweet Rhythm, making them the first black jazz stars to have their own weekly radio series. During the 1940s Sullivan then performed with a wide range of bands, including her husband's sextet and groups headed by Teddy Wilson, Benny Carter, and Jimmie Lunceford. Sullivan performed at many of New York's hottest jazz spots such as the Ruban Bleu, the Village Vanguard, the Blue Angel, and the Penthouse. In 1949, Sullivan appeared on the short-lived CBS Television series Uptown Jubilee, and in 1953 starred in the play, Take a Giant Step.

In 1956, Sullivan shifted from her earlier style and recorded the album A Tribute to Andy Razaf; originally on the Period record label, the album featured Sullivan's interpretations of a dozen tunes featuring Razaf's lyrics. The album also highlighted the music of Fats Waller, including versions of "Keepin' Out of Mischief Now", "How Can You Face Me?", "My Fate Is in Your Hands", "Honeysuckle Rose", "Ain't Misbehavin'", and "Blue Turning Grey Over You". Sullivan was joined by a sextet that was reminiscent of John Kirby's group of 15 years prior, including trumpeter Charlie Shavers and clarinettist Buster Bailey.
From 1958 Sullivan worked as a nurse before resuming her musical career in 1966, performing in jazz festivals alongside her fourth husband Cliff Jackson, who can be heard on the 1966 live recording of Sullivan's performance at the Manassas Jazz Festival. Sullivan continued to perform throughout the 1970s and made a string of recordings during the 1980s, despite being over 70 years old. She was nominated for the 1979 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical (won by Carlin Glynn) for her role in My Old Friends, and participated in the film biography Maxine Sullivan: Love to Be in Love, shortly before her death.
In her later concert appearances she travelled to France for several performances in 1984 and to Sweden many times beginning in 1975 and ending in 1984. Maxine Sullivan died in April of 1987 after suffering a seizure for which she was hospitalized in new York and did not recover. This was a little more than one month short of her 76th birthday and just 8 months after her last recorded concert appearance. The last song she performed at the Fujitsu – Concord Jazz Festival and her last performance on record…was Loch Lomond. She was posthumously inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame in 1998.

Sullivan married four times; her second husband was the band leader John Kirby (married 1938, divorced 1941), while her fourth husband, whom she married in 1950, was the stride pianist Cliff Jackson, who died in 1970. She had two children, Orville Williams (b. 1928) and Paula Morris (b. 1945).
 (Info mainly Wikipedia)

The late, great Maxine Sullivan in 1986 with Scott Hamilton on tenor.