Clockwise: Vera Lynn; Anita O'Day; Sophie Tucker; and Jo Stafford.
As I was thinking about this post, I decided to listen to one of my playlists on iTunes, hoping for some inspiration. After listening to a couple of songs, I had to laugh at myself. What was I thinking, hoping for inspiration? These are the songs I am gonna use, by golly! So I started with the voice of a woman many thought of as the voice of World War II in the UK. Many found strength and support in Vera Lynn's voice, no matter what she sang. I picked her beautiful song released in 1940, "A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square", written by Eric Maschwitz and Manning Sherwin.
Ultimately, I think that Anita O'Day might be one of my favorite big band/jazz singers. No matter what I am listening to, I find there are some singers I constantly find playing. Anita is one of them. So I picked one of my favorites, a song from 1945 written by Jimmy McHugh and Clarence Gaskill, "I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me".
How can anyone not love the vocals of Jo Stafford? Tonight I will feature a song written by Chilton Price, and later adapted by Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart. In 1952, Stafford released her version of the classic song "You Belong To Me", and it soared on the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. While she was thrilled to get to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in her native US, it also gave her the unique position of being the first woman to have a #1 song on the UK Pop charts.
Now, I don't understand how anyone could not love the great Sophie Tucker. While some might have gotten to know her through the bawdy jokes told by the Divine Miss M, Bette Midler, in her live shows. And while Sophie was an amazing talent, she was also a woman who was ahead of her time, which gave many producers pause while she was singing in the 1930s and 1940s. Through it all, Sophie stood tall, and continued to makes some wonderful music. Here is the 1930 live performance of "No One But The Right Man Can Do Me Wrong" from London.