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Pearl Bailey

An uninhibited vocalist who gave more to her performances than any other singers around, Pearl Bailey gained fame for her work in Broadway, cabaret, and Hollywood. Bailey's sultry, slurred delivery livened up many a stale standard, including "Baby It's Cold Outside" and her only hit, "Takes Two to Tango."

The daughter of a preacher, Bailey began singing at the age of three (her brother, Bill Bailey, also taught her a few dance steps). She was performing professionally by her early teenage years and after touring as a dancer for several years, she featured both as a singer and dancer with jazz bands led by Noble Sissle, Cootie Williams, and Edgar Hayes. She began performing as a solo act in 1944, and wooed night club audiences with her relaxed stage presence and humorous asides. After briefly replacing Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Cab Calloway's Orchestra during the mid-'40s, she debuted on Broadway during 1946 in the musical St. Louis Woman. Bailey earned an award for most promising newcomer, and made her first film, Variety Girl, in 1947.

Though it wasn't a hit, her version of "Tired" (from Variety Girl) increased her standing in the jazz community. She recorded for several different labels, including Columbia, during the '40s and finally found a hit in 1952 after signing to Coral. Her version of "Takes Two to Tango," backed by Don Redman's Orchestra, hit the Top Ten. That same year, she married drummer Louie Bellson, and he left his position with Duke Ellington to become her musical director. Bailey recorded several albums for Coral during the early '50s, and starred as a fortune teller in the 1954 film Carmen Jones. More starring roles followed, in the W.C. Handy biopic St. Louis Blues as well as the first filmed version of Gershwin's classic operetta Porgy and Bess.

In 1959, a new recording contract (with Roulette) resulted in a change of direction. After her double-entendre LP For Adults Only was banned from radio play, it became a big seller and occasioned a string of similar albums during the early '60s. She continued to perform on Broadway, and won a Tony award in 1970 for her title role in Hello, Dolly!. She led her own television variety show in 1971, but retired from active performance several years later. Pearl Bailey was named to the American delegation to the United Nations in 1976, and awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1988. ~ John Bush
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Jazz Infusion - Pearl Bailey

2. Row Row Row

3. 19th Street

4. Takes Two To Tango

6. A Little Learnin' Is A Dangerous Thing

7. I Need Ya Like I Need A Hole In The Head

8. Saturday Night Fish Fry

9. She's Something Spanish

10. Vagabond Shoes

11. Johnson Rag

12. Personality

14. Tired

15. Legalize My Name

17. Old Man You Been Gone Too Long

18. He Didn’t Ask Me

19. Baby It's Cold Outside

20. A Womans Prerogative

21. Ma He's Makin Eyes At Me

22. I'm Lazy That’s All

x

Track List: The Real Pearl Bailey

1. I'm Gonna Keep On Doin' (What I'm Doin')

2. Nobody

3. The Color Of Rain

4. He's Gone

5. Walk Away (From 'How Now Dow Jones')

6. Protect Me

7. I Believe

8. A Tower Of Strength

9. Poor Butterfly

10. Ukulele Talk

11. Baby, Don't You Quit Now

12. That's Life

x

Track List: Naughty But Nice / Songs Of The Bad Old Days

1. Getting' A Man

2. Since I Became A Hussy For My Husband

3. Never Give Anything Away

4. Satin And Silk

5. Nobody Makes A Pass At Me

6. Pas Ce Soir

7. Not Now John

8. Mouton To Muskrat To Mink

9. I Hate Men

10. They're Either Too Young Or Too Old

11. Around The World With Me

12. Always True To You Darling In My Fashion

13. Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea

14. Stormy Weather

15. Ain't Misbehavin'

16. I Must Have That Man

17. You Gave Me Everything But Love

18. Memories Of You

19. I've Got The World On A String

20. I Can't Give You Anything But Love

21. Doin' The New Low Down

22. Don't Worry About Me

23. My Fate Is In Your Hands

24. As Long As I Live (1960)

x

Track List: Pearl Bailey Entertains / Cultured Pearl / I'm With You

1. Tired

2. That's Good Enough For Me

3. I Need Ya Like I Need A Hole In The Head

4. Get It Off Your Mind

5. Legalise My Name

6. It's A Woman's Prerogative

7. Fifteen Years

8. Ma! He's Making Eyes At Me

9. My Ideal

10. Big Words

11. Me And My Shadow

13. Strike While The Iron's Hot

14. He May Be Your Man

15. I Cried For You

16. I Always Shake The Tree

17. Let There Be Love

18. Fernandez Of The Andes

19. He's Gone

20. She's Something Spanish

21. Takes Two To Tango

22. Let There Be Love

23. Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye

24. Nothing

25. 8th Street Association

26. I Heard

x

Track List: Zing Went The Strings

1. Cherry Berry Bin

2. He Didn't Ask Me

3. St. Louis Blues

4. I Hate Men

5. Summertime

6. The Hucklebuck

7. You've Got It Made

8. Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart

x

Track List: More Songs For Adults Only

1. Westport

2. There's A Little Bit Of Bad In Every Good Little Girl

3. Confessions

4. The Great Indoors

6. Love For Sale

7. One Man (Ain't Quite Enough)

8. Aggravatin' Papa

9. Nobody's Chasing Me

10. The Begat

11. Show Me Love

x

Track List: My Man

1. To Keep My Love Alive

2. You've Got It Made

3. A Five Pound Box Of Money

4. Best Of Friends

5. Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend

6. Don't Like Goodbyes

7. Easy Street

8. No Body

9. I Hate Men

10. My Man

11. Hit The Road To Dreamland

12. Lack Of Education

13. The Gypsy Goofed

14. The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea

15. The Physician

16. Tired

x

Track List: Sings Porgy & Bess And Other Gerswhin Melodies

1. I Got Plenty O' Nuttin'

2. I Got Rhythm

3. Summertime

4. Lady Be Good

5. A Foggy Day

6. Love Is Here To Stay

7. Bess You Is My Woman

8. They Can't Take That Away From Me

9. Someone To Watch Over Me

10. It Ain't Necessarily So

11. A Woman Is A Sometime Thing

12. Clap Yo' Hands

x

Track List: And Friends

1. Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart

2. St. Louis Blues

3. C’est Si Bon

4. Stealin’ Apples

5. Stormy Weather

6. When Sunny Gets Blue

7. I’ll Get By

8. Alfred Hitchock Presents

9. Unforgettable

10. A Tisket, A Tasket

11. Misty

12. Lover Man

13. Everything Must Change

14. Rich People In Hollywood

15. My Funny Valentine

16. Hit The Road To Dreamland

17. That Certain Feeling

18. Little Sheba

19. That Old Black Magic

20. God Bless The Child

21. The Lady Is A Tramp

22. Solid Gold Cadillac

23. Land Of Paradise

x

Track List: Takes Two To Tango - Asv / Living Era

1. Takes Two To Tango

3. He Didn't Ask Me

4. St. Louis Blues

5. Tired

6. Fifteen Years

8. Personality

9. Legalize My Name

10. Womans Perogative

11. Row, Row, Row

12. Little Learnin Is A Dangerous Thing

13. I'm Lazy That's All

14. Who

15. Ma (He's Makin' Eyes At Me)

16. Baby, It's Cold Outside

18. Johnson Rag

19. Saturday Night Fish Fry

20. Vagabond Shoes

22. Let There Be Love

23. As Long As I Live

24. Me And My Shadow

25. Shes Something Spanish

x

Track List: Songs For Adults Only

1. She Had To Go And Lose It At The Astor

2. Josephine

3. To Keep My Love Alive

4. I Want A Man

6. The Physician

7. Legalize My Name

8. You Brought Me More Sunshine (Than I Can Use)

9. You Can Be Replaced

10. I Wanna Get Married

x

Track List: 1947-1950

1. That's No Way To Do

3. Old Man, You Been Gone Too Long

4. I'm Lazy That's All

5. Don't Ever Leave Me

6. Who

7. Protect Me

8. Ma (He's Making Eyes At Me)

9. Don't Sit On My Bed

10. Here You Come With Love

11. Baby, It's Cold Outside

12. The Hucklebuck

13. It's A Great Feeling

14. Ain't She Sweet

15. Frankie And Johnny

16. Not Tonight

17. Johnson Rag

18. Saturday Night Fish Fry

19. Mamie Is Mimi

20. For You My Love

21. Nothing For Nothing

22. They Didn't Believe Me

23. There Must Be Something Better Than Love

x

Track List: It's A Great Feeling

1. He Didn't Ask Me

2. Protect Me

3. Ma (He's Making Eyes At Me)

4. It's A Great Feeling

6. Mamie Is Mimi

x

Track List: 16 Most Requested Songs

1. Legalize My Name

2. Tired

3. St. Louis Blues

4. A Woman's Prerogative

6. Who

7. Don't Ever Leave Me

8. Saturday Night Fish Fry

9. Personality

10. Ain't She Sweet

11. Get It Off Your Mind

12. The Hucklebuck

13. They Didn't Believe Me

14. Frankie And Johnny

15. That's Good Enough For Me

16. Here You Come With Love

x

Track List: The Best Of Pearl Bailey

1. Takes Two To Tango

2. That's Good Enough For Me

3. Row, Row, Row

4. Legalize My Name

5. Fifteen Years

6. Old, Tired And Torn

7. St. Louis Blues

8. Tired

9. Ma, He's Making Eyes At Me

10. Toot, Toot Tootsie!

11. Cherry's At The Top Of The Tree

12. Solid Gold Cadillac

13. Zing Went The Strings Of My Heart

14. Hit The Road To Dreamland

15. That Certain Feeling

16. Hong Kong Blues

Comments

Report as inappropriate
I say this for people to Treasure Your Oppurtunty!- She's an Icon to me!!- -No matter what is going on!- LOVE LIFE!- And People!!!(No t meant to be negative!- Im sure someone will take it that way!)! Not meant that way!
Report as inappropriate
The Boss!- PEARL! Its easy to walk into open doors! Like Black female singers! Actresses! and Rappers do today!-They claim they the" stuff" but I Guarantee you they couldnt withstood what this woman with threw!- For them to have the previlige to 'Act A Fool" Now!
Report as inappropriate
Love Pearl but not really into Queen Latifah!- But have to admit!- Latifah! Is Pearl!- If they ever do a Biography!- Nobody else is qualified!- Dana Owens!(Queen ) is the only one I wanna see! She will do her justice!!!!
Report as inappropriate
nstockford
My wife wife was a student at Georgetown in the early '80s. She was walking with crutches on the sidewalk and low and behold Pearl Bailey stopped her car and gave her a
ride!
Report as inappropriate
Pearlie Mae was great. They broke the mold. She also wrote SIX books person that wrote this review.
Graduated from George Washington university at age 68!
Report as inappropriate
Loved me some PeArl
Report as inappropriate
beachgirls19 6 2 1
a great lady
Report as inappropriate
effee84
Most amazing awsome lady.
Report as inappropriate
beachgirls19 6 2 1
Love my Pearl
Report as inappropriate
Beautiful--- a performer of the finest!
Report as inappropriate
sassyjan
oh Perlie May Perlie May... you are terrific.
Report as inappropriate
Pearl was one sassy lady. I remember her fondly on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and other variety shows. Great personality.
Report as inappropriate
alias173
"Just another" (sensational ) singer from that wonderful era! Pearlie Mae certainly had her own delivery style... a wonderful style!
Report as inappropriate
sassyjan
I love me some Perlie May
Report as inappropriate
Love Pearl Bailey. She was definitely before the right time for her talent. Was glad she won a Tony for "Hello Dolly". She certainly earned her way and was great doing it. This another performer that my Daddy loved. We had similar tastes in music. Perhaps my leanings were greatly influenced by his. NO DOUBT!
Report as inappropriate
why not make available for purchase her album, "For Adults Only"?
Report as inappropriate
ackerbex3
I always loved her delivery - makes you feel like you're sharing a private joke with her. Never could understand why she wasn't a bigger star.
Report as inappropriate
Amazing underrated super talented artist!
Report as inappropriate
sassyjan
I just love everything Perlie May ever sang

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