Saturday, January 5, 2013

Just A Little Bit of Blue

Annette Hanshaw Billie Holiday
June Allyson Big Maybelle
Clockwise: Annette Hanshaw; Billie Holiday; Big Maybelle; and June Allyson.

Well, it is Saturday night, and time to hit the clubs again. Only these days, I think I would prefer a nice smokey nightclub to a dance club. Of course, they'd have to have only the best girl singers, putting down some amazing songs about love and life. Tonight, I am glad to feature four songs from four decades. And I will begin with the singer with the earliest recording of this quartet, Annette Hanshaw. Many think of Annette as the first great female Jazz singer, for she was exceedingly popular during the 1920s and 1930s. She was also thought to be the inspiration for the ultimate flapper, Miss Betty Boop. In 1929, Hanshaw recorded a song with music by Sigmund Romberg and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II for the 1928 Broadway show 'The New Moon'. That song went on to become a classic of the Great American Songbook, sung by many. Listen as Annette sings "Lover, Come Back To Me".

In 1934, another song was written that would be a part of the Great American Songbook. The song, with words and music by Ray Noble, is a Pop standard, sung by so many. But few could sing it like Lady Day. So here is Billie Holiday to sing "The Very Thought of You", which can be found on her 1959 album 'The Billie Holiday Story, Vol. 1'.

And while she really didn't record much outside of the cast recordings of the Broadway and movie musicals she appeared in, June Allyson was cast in many a musical. In fact, she began as a member of the chorus in Broadway shows, before moving up to understudy, and finally, the lead. And it wasn't long before she was on her way to Lon Angeles, on her way to movie stardom. That included being featured in the musical number "Treat Me Rough" from the 1943 musical "Girl Crazy". She is joined in the song by co-star Mickey Rooney, in one of the classics he played opposite Judy Garland.

And, last but most certainly not least, I have a song from a favorite of mine, Big Maybelle. She has a vast catalog of music, and I am oh-so-grateful for that. So I end out Saturday night together with her bluesy "I'm Getting 'Long Alright". The song can be found on 'The Complete Okeh Sessions 1952-1955' and was composed by Bobby Sharp and Charles Singleton.


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