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Mildred Bailey

An early jazz singer with a sweet voice, Mildred Bailey balanced a good deal of popular success with a hot jazz-slanted career that saw her billed as Mrs. Swing (her husband, Red Norvo, was Mr. Swing). Born Mildred Rinker in Washington state in 1907, Bailey began performing at an early age, playing piano and singing in movie theaters during the early '20s. By 1925, she was the headlining act at a club in Hollywood, doing a mixture of pop, early jazz tunes, and vaudeville standards. Influenced by Ethel Waters, Bessie Smith, and Connie Boswell, she developed a soft, swinging delivery that pleased all kinds of nightclub audiences in the area. After sending a demonstration disc in to Paul Whiteman in 1929, she gained a spot with one of the most popular dance orchestras of the day.

The added exposure with Whiteman soon gave Bailey her own radio program. She had already debuted on a recording date with guitarist Eddie Lang in 1929, but in 1932 she gained fame by recording what became her signature song, "Rockin' Chair" -- written especially for her by Hoagie Carmichael -- with a Whiteman small group. While recording for Vocalion during the 1930s, Bailey often utilized her husband, xylophonist/vibraphonist Red Norvo. She also appeared on his recordings of the late '30s, and the arrangements of Eddie Sauter proved a perfect accompaniment to her vocals.

Though she and Norvo later divorced, Bailey continued to perform and record during the 1940s. She appeared on Benny Goodman's Camel Caravan radio program, and gained her own series again during the mid-'40s. Hampered by health problems during the late '40s, she spent time in the hospital suffering from diabetes and died of a heart attack in 1951. ~ John Bush, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Mrs. Swing (Box Set)

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3
Disc 4

Comments

I love Mildred, and I think that it is important to note that she was the first woman to sing in front of Big Band, AND she was Native American woman from my tribe the Couer d'alenes which was pretty unheard of at the time. If you think this awesome and groundbreaki n g woman should be part of the Jazz Hall of Fame sign this petition: http://www.w h e r e i s m i l d r e d . c o m /
Point is: she was a highly talented singer who died prematurely with health conditions assuredly caused by what she consumed. Period.
This is real music when dingers hsd a voice
Love it!
what a lovely voice!!! i love jazz and pandora has helped me find some great ones
sean_mcclain
Until Pandora I had never heard of Mildred Bailey. Thanks again, Pandora, for once again introducing me to an amazing artist that our culture had not done until you came along. This is why you could & should be much more than you are. Keep on growing & become what you were meant to be.
James Vinson Carmichael, you have me very intrigued about the Mary Lou Williams collaboratio n . I will look for the disc set. Thanks!
Sweet.
i'm just getting to know her i need to get all of her records
I first heard her about '62 when Columbia came out with the three disc set. "When Day is Done" is still the hottest thing around, and I love her sides with Teddy Wilson and also the Oxford Grays. She and Mary Lou Williams had real musical rapport.
One of my Dad's favorite singers; I never really appreciated her until I was older...as pure a voice as there is.
sybillalucia
I first heard her around 1947, when I was a young teen. I thought she was wonderful. I especially love her recording of "Cry, cry, cry".
mikesattic
Actually, I think she is cute... I have a crush on her... Kinda like my crush on Judy Garland... It is ok to have a crush on a dead person rite?
balerick42
Anyone focusing on a singer's weight has to be from the MTV generation. Mildred was a good Jazz singer. MTV ruined music when it put the emphasis on looks. I seriously doubt Skankney or Lady Blah Blah would make it on 1920's and 1930's radio. Now I do have to give some on my point due to the popularity of some 1*930's and 40's blonde and beautiful Big Band singers, but at least they could carry a tune and didn't need to rely on a good sound engineer to produce electronicly enhanced voices.
jmasl
Maybe the reference to weight is appropriate - there is a link between weight and diabetes. However, that being said, there is no relationship between weight and talent, and Ms. Bailey made the most out of hers.
ealexm
I like the review and the singer. Noticed NO derogatory weight related comments. The picture is the picture and the song is the song.
Let's hope you don't give Ann Wilson from Heart the same treatment!
I agree with emchypoet & daffodil. Focusing on the singer's weight is bad reviewing. What's your point here?
Mildred Bailey is one of my favorite vocalists - but I find the comparison between her voice and her physique insulting and offensive. I wanted to share this bio via facebook to promote both Pandora and Bailey - but now I'll definately look elsewhere for a musical bio to promote. I strongly suggest a rewrite pandora folks - you're better than this.
daffodil
Surely there is no connection between an artist's weight and her singing voice! How rude!
magruver
I love her voice, she is smooth.... wonderful,
she's always had the right stuff...so very under appreciated. . . w i s h she could be re-packaged and put back in the public eye...this is a singer who makes you feel good!

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