Sullivan, Maxine [Williams, Marietta ]
- Elaine M. Hayes
[Williams, Marietta ]
(b Homestead, PA, May 13, 1911; d New York, NY, April 7, 1987). American jazz singer. She began singing professionally in Pittsburgh in 1936 and moved to New York in 1937. Claude Thornhill helped her find work at the Onyx Club, where she performed with john Kirby ’s sextet, and encouraged her to sing jazz versions of Scottish folk tunes, including her biggest hit, “Loch Lomond” (1937, Vocalion) Although her delicate voice, intimate style, and charming demeanor suited the folk tunes and light classics that became her trademark, some white listeners disliked the notion of a black vocalist swinging traditional material. This controversy fueled her popularity. She appeared in the film Going Places (singing “Jeepers, Creepers” with Louis Armstrong) in 1938, followed by St. Louis Blues and the failed Broadway musical Swingin’ the Dream in 1939. She married Kirby in 1938 and sang with him until their divorce in ...