ARTISTS & PERFORMERS

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Artist Photo Artist Bio
The Andrews Sisters were an American close harmony singing group of the swing and boogie-woogie eras. The group consisted of three sisters: contralto LaVerne (July 6, 1911 – May 8, 1967), soprano Maxene (January 3, 1916 – October 21, 1995), and mezzo-soprano Patty (February 16, 1918 – January 30, 2013). Throughout their long career, the sisters sold well over 100 million records. Their 1941 hit "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" can be considered an early example of rhythm and blues or jump blues. The Andrews Sisters' harmonies and songs are still... Continue reading
Andy Kirk (May 28, 1898 – December 11, 1992) was a jazz saxophonist and tubist best known as a bandleader of the "Twelve Clouds of Joy", popular during the swing era. Kirk grew up in Denver, Colorado, where he was tutored by Wilberforce Whiteman, Paul Whiteman's father. Kirk started his musical career playing with George Morrison's band, but then went on to join Terrence Holder's Dark Clouds of Joy. In 1929 he was elected leader after Holder departed. Renaming the band Clouds of Joy, Kirk also relocated the band from Dallas, Texas, to Kansas ... Continue reading
Anson Weeks (February 14, 1896, Oakland, California – February 7, 1969, Sacramento, California) was a pianist and the leader of a popular west coast dance band from the late 1920s through the 1960s, primarily in San Francisco. He formed his first band in 1924 and had key hotel jobs in Oakland and Sacramento, California. By the late 1920s he led a popular regional orchestra and started recording for Columbia in 1928. He garnerered favorable attention in late 1931 on the "Lucky Strike Magic Carpet" radio program. His vocalists included Art Wils... Continue reading
Art Hickman (June 13, 1886 – January 16, 1930) was a drummer, pianist, and band leader whose orchestra is sometimes seen as an ancestor to Big band music. It fits into what are termed "sweet bands", something like that of Paul Whiteman. His orchestra is also credited, perhaps dubiously, with being among the first jazz bands. Jelly Roll Morton disputed this notion, as did Hickman himself. At first he even disputed that "jazz" was music at all, alternatively calling it a kind of bubbling water or just noise. Although born in Oakland, he lived i... Continue reading
Artie Shaw (May 23, 1910 – December 30, 2004) was an American clarinetist, composer, bandleader, and actor. Also an author, Shaw wrote both fiction and non-fiction. Widely regarded as "one of jazz's finest clarinetists," Shaw led one of the United States' most popular big bands in the late 1930s through the early 1940s. Though he had numerous hit records, he was perhaps best known for his 1938 recording of Cole Porter's "Begin the Beguine." Prior to the release of "Beguine," Shaw and his fledgling band had languished in relative obscurity for... Continue reading
Benny Goodman (May 30, 1909 – June 13, 1986) was an American jazz and swing musician, clarinetist and bandleader, known as the "King of Swing". In the mid-1930s, Benny Goodman led one of the most popular musical groups in America. His concert at Carnegie Hall in New York City on January 16, 1938, is described by critic Bruce Eder as "the single most important jazz or popular music concert in history: jazz's 'coming out' party to the world of 'respectable' music." Goodman's bands launched the careers of many major names in jazz. During an era ... Continue reading
Bert Ambrose (11 September 1896 – 11 June 1971), was an English bandleader and violinist. Ambrose became the leader of a highly acclaimed British dance band, Bert Ambrose & His Orchestra, in the 1930s. Ambrose began playing the violin while young, and travelled to New York City with his aunt. He began playing professionally, first for Emil Coleman at New York's Reisenweber's restaurant, then in the Palais Royal's big band. After making a success of a stint as bandleader, at the age of 20 he was asked to put together and lead his own fifteen-p... Continue reading
Bert Lown (June 6, 1903-November 2 (or 20), 1962) was a violinist and orchestra leader. He was born in White Plains, New York. He began as a sideman playing the violin in Fred Hamm's band, and in the 1920s and 1930s he led a series of jazz-oriented dance bands (the most famous being the Biltmore Hotel Orchestra), making a large number of recordings in that period for Victor Records. In 1925, with Hamm, Dave Bennett, and Chauncey Gray, he composed the well-known standard "Bye Bye Blues." He also wrote some other songs, including "You'r... Continue reading
Billie Holiday (April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959), was an American jazz musician and singer-songwriter with a career spanning nearly thirty years. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and music partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz music and pop singing. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. Holiday was known for her vocal delivery and improvisational skills, which made up for her limited range and lack of formal music education. While there were... Continue reading
Billy Cotton (6 May 1899 – 25 March 1969) was an English band leader and entertainer, one of the few whose orchestras survived the British dance band era. Cotton is now mainly remembered as a 1950s and 1960s radio and television personality, but his musical career had begun in the 1920s. In his younger years Billy Cotton was also an amateur soccer player, an accomplished racing driver and the owner of a small plane which he piloted himself. In the early 1920s, he worked at several jobs, including as a bus driver, before setting up ... Continue reading
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