Burnside, Vi(olet May)
- Yoko Suzuki
(b Lancaster, PA, April 19, 1915; d Washington, DC, Nov 19, 1964). American tenor saxophonist and bandleader. She played in a few different all-girl bands before joining the International Sweethearts of Rhythm in late 1943. She participated in the group’s USO tour in 1945 and stayed in the band until 1949. During the Sweethearts’ tour in American cities, she participated in jam sessions at local clubs and battled with such notable saxophonists as Jimmy Forrest and Gene Ammons, which black newspapers excitedly reported. She also performed with her all-star girl combo—which consisted of selected members from the Sweethearts—at the Baby Grand Café in New York in October 1948. In early 1949 she formed her own all-girl band and toured in the South, California, Nevada, and other West Coast cities over the course of three months. Burnside remained active in the early 1950s, playing at Joe’s Rendezvous in Chicago, the Parker House in Pittsburgh, and a local theatre in Panama. After moving to Washington, DC, she worked at the Musicians’ Union from ...