Jazz and History

(22) Jazz Vocalists in 1930's

Bing Crosby(1903-1977)
and Paul Whiteman(1890-1967)
Big bands often played as dance bands, and many good singers belonged to them exclusively.
Bing Crosby became exclusive singer for Paul Whiteman's Band in 1927. Whiteman was a musician called "King of Jazz" in 1920's.

Crosby got popularity on the air, so people recognized his name around the U.S.

Also, Crosby became a popular movie star, and he affected Sinatra's life. When Sinatra was listening to Crosby, he got an ambition to be a singer.

Billie Holiday (Eleanora Fagan)

Beside, Billie Holiday was one of the greatest Jazz vocalists that affected to Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and many singers later on. However, Holiday herself initially (adored and) took over Bessie Smith's Blues. Soon later, Lester Young and Louis Armstrong finally influenced on her (way of singing) greatly.

Holiday had never belonged to any band, but she had first recording experience with Benny Goodman Orchestra in 1933. She then marvelously performed classical Jazz vocals with Teddy Wilson, Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and Artie Show in sequence; as a result, she left 307 songs in her short 44 years of life.


Ella Fitzgerald(1917-1996) 
Every American is for sure, but even the Japanese who are not familiar with Jazz should know the name of Ella Fitzgerald. A story about Fitzgerald's debut from Chick Webb's band is well known, yet Webb flatly refused to hire Ella at first.

"We'll take her to Yale tomorrow night," he said.
"And if she goes over with the college kids, she stays."

She passed the test.

What do you think? Isn't it a surprising story?

Only in four years, Webb passed away because of vertebra tuberculosis despite the age of 30. Having been a leader, Fitzgerald stayed in the band about two years, then she started her career as a solo vocalist.

Ira Gershwin remembered and said; "I have never known that our songs are such great until Ella sings."

[translated by Mariko Ukawa]

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