Saturday, October 20, 2012

Maxine Sullivan Brings The Swing

Maxine Sullivan

Maxine Sullivan came into the public eye in the 1930s, singing some of the great music that was being written. She was born in Homestead, Pennsylvania, in 1911. She was raised in a musical family, and soon she was singing in her uncle's band, The Red Hot Peppers. With them, she toured around Pennsylvania, singing and occasionally playing both the flugelhorn and the valve trombone. But in the mid-1930s, she was discovered, and was soon in a recording studio.

Maxine Sullivan

From the 1930s to the 1970s, Maxine continued to work steadily as a singer, including taking an occasional turn on the Broadway stage. In fact, in 1979, at the age of 68, she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her work in 'My Old Friends'. She played and recorded with the top talents of her time, from Louis Armstrong to Fats Waller. Maxine was perhaps best known for her recording of "Loch Lomond", the traditional Scottish Folk song from the 17th or 18th century. Her recording injected new life into the song with the great Swing arrangement. Here is Maxine Sullivan singing "Loch Lomond".

The next song is a standard from 1946. This was written by composer Harry Warren and lyricist Arthur Freed. "This Heart of Mine" was written for the 1946 film 'Ziegfield Follies', with Fred Astaire singing and dancing as only he could. The song was recorded and sung beautifully by Sullivan in 1948.

"Skylark" was written in 1941, by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael. It is said that Mercer's lyrics were written to express his longing for Judy Garland, after the two had an affair. It quickly became a Popular standard, and sung by some of the greatest voices around. In 1947, Sullivan recorded her version, which certainly offered up a sweet yet aching feeling, perfectly capturing the emotion for the song.

The next song was written in 1928 by the great Fats Waller, with lyrics by Andy Razaf. Waller's recording in 1934 was later inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. In 1956, Maxine recorded an album to celebrate the lyrics of Razaf, 'A Tribute to Andy Razaf'. The album also featured the wonderful music of Waller. Here is one of the songs from that collection, "Honeysuckle Rose".

You can find 'The Very Best of Maxine Sullivan' on iTunes and Amazon.

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