101-120 of 2,386 results  for:

  • Popular Music x
Clear all

Article

Ronnie Pugh

Country-music group. Its principal members were four brothers: Kyle (Otis) Bailes (b Enoch, WV, 7 May 1915; d 3 March 1996), Johnnie (John Jacob) Bailes (b St. Albans, WV, 24 June 1918; d 21 Dec 1989), Walter (Butler) Bailes (b North Charleston, WV, 17 Jan 1920; d Sevierville, TN, 27 Nov 2000), and Homer (Vernon) Bailes (b North Charleston, WV, 8 May 1922); at different times various combinations of the brothers and other musicians made up the group. Brought up by a widowed mother during the Depression, the brothers formed a group called the Hymn Singers to earn their living. Among the performers who influenced their style were Hank and Slim Newman and the Holden Brothers. The Bailes Brothers worked on various West Virginia radio stations, where their colleagues included Molly O’Day (then known as Dixie Lee) and Little Jimmy Dickens, billed by Johnnie as the Singing Midget. During World War II, while Homer was in military service, Johnnie and Walter performed as a duo on the “Grand Ole Opry,” having secured the booking through their friendship with Roy Acuff. In the mid- 1940s the group made its most successful recordings, mostly of songs written by Walter, for Columbia; at that time it was known as the West Virginia Home Folks. In ...

Article

Charles E. Kinzer

[William C.]

(b Memphis, TN, July 19, 1902; d New York, NY, April 12, 1967). American jazz clarinetist. As a teenager he played in W.C. Handy’s orchestra, and in 1919 he moved to Chicago, where he studied with Franz Schoepp and performed and recorded with Erskine Tate, Mamie Smith, and King Oliver. In 1924 he moved to New York to join Fletcher Henderson’s group, in which he worked until 1929 and then again in the mid-1930s. Bailey’s technical facility earned him a role as a soloist on several of Henderson’s notable recordings. He also played with Noble Sissle (early 1930s) and the Mills Blue Rhythm Band (1934–5). In 1934 he made the first of many recordings alongside Henry “Red” Allen, in both the Henderson and Mills orchestras. In 1937 Bailey joined a group that soon took shape as John Kirby’s sextet. His classical training served him well in this “chamber jazz” setting, as the group favored intricate arrangements and precise ensemble coordination. He recorded frequently with Kirby and remained with the group until ...

Article

David C. Morton

(b Smith County, TN, Dec 14, 1899; d Nashville, TN, July 2, 1982). American country-blues harmonica player. He was one of the early stars of the radio show “Grand Ole Opry.” He began playing the harmonica at age three when he was bedridden with polio and made his first radio performance on the Nashville radio station WDAD in September 1925. Thanks to Dr. Humphrey Bate, Bailey soon began performing on WSM’s show “Barn Dance.” George D. Hay called him the Harmonica Wizard and credited him with inspiring the naming of the “Grand Ole Opry.” In 1928 Bailey recorded eight tunes for Victor Records in the first recording session in Nashville. Except for a brief time when he lived in Knoxville and played on WNOX radio, he performed on WSM every Saturday night from 1926 until 1941. He was included in many WSM touring groups during the 1930s. Uncle Dave Macon, the Delmore Brothers, Roy Acuff, and Bill Monroe, among others, wanted him on the tour because of his strong draw with the audience of the “Grand Ole Opry.” As an African American performer, Bailey encountered difficulties on the road involving lodging and food, but received an enthusiastic reception from white audiences. He left the Opry in ...

Article

Tina Spencer Dreisbach

(b Tekoa, WA, Feb 27, 1903; d Poughkeepsie, NY, Dec 12, 1951). American jazz singer of Coeur d’Alene heritage. In her youth she was influenced by tribal song, vaudeville, and blues. She sang in West Coast speakeasies until she was introduced to Paul Whiteman by her brother Al Rinker and his friend Bing Crosby. Hired by Whiteman in 1929, Bailey became the first significant female big band vocalist. In the 1930s and 40s she made more than 200 recordings with some of the top jazz musicians of the time. She also toured with her husband, the xylophone player Red Norvo (1936–8). Although they never achieved great commercial success, their subtle swing was widely admired in jazz circles, and his delicate mallet work complemented her clear, sweet tone and refined phrasing, pitch, and diction. They worked closely with the classically trained arranger Eddie Sauter and the composers Hoagy Carmichael, Johnny Mercer, Willard Robison, and Alec Wilder. The influence of the Bailey–Norvo partnership resonated widely: in ...

Article

Arnold Shaw

(Mae)

(b Newport News, VA, March 29, 1918; d Philadelphia, PA, Aug 17, 1990). American jazz and popular singer. She sang with Noble Sissle’s band in the mid-1930s and with Cootie Williams and Count Basie in the early 1940s. She made her solo debut in New York at the Village Vanguard in 1941. By the middle of the decade, she was working with Cab Calloway and his band, with whom she developed a comical, offhand style of performance, which included a patter of droll asides. She made her Broadway debut in Harold Arlen’s musical St. Louis Woman (1946), for which she won a Donaldson Award. She later starred in Arlen’s House of Flowers (1954) and in an African American version of Jerry Herman’s Hello, Dolly! (1967), which earned her a Special Tony Award (1968). Among her film roles, Bailey is best remembered for her appearances in ...

Article

Baker  

Dale Cockrell

Family of singers who between 1844 and the 1880s formed various differently constituted groups under the family name. A vocal quartet named the Baker Family was first formed around 1844 and consisted of by siblings John C. Baker, George E. Baker, Sophia M. Baker, and Henry F. Baker in Salisbury, New Hampshire. They followed the example of the Hutchinson Family in style, repertory, and presentation, and became one of the most popular ensembles of this type. The group, sometimes with the addition of other family members including Jaspar and Emilie, toured widely in the mid- and late 1840s, especially to smaller cities and towns. In 1851 some of the family moved to Waukegan, Illinois, from where the newly named Baker Vocalists made periodic tours to the West until the 1880s. Although the bass George had the most impressive voice, it was John who was the leading member of the group. A Baker Family concert often consisted only of his glees, choruses, and ballads; among his 35 published pieces, “Where can the soul find rest?” (...

Article

Jonas Westover

(b Toledo, OH, Jan 26, 1958). American R&B singer and songwriter. After moving to Detroit and achieving some success with the group Chapter 8, she began her own career with the album The Songstress (1983). Although she only found moderate success at first, her second album, Rapture (1985–86), contained several hits that rocketed her to stardom on both the R&B and pop music charts, especially the song “Sweet Love,” which she co-wrote with Gary Bias and Louis Johnson. Baker remained a fixture on the charts throughout the 1980s and early 90s with such songs as “Giving you the Best that I Got” (from Giving you the Best that I Got, 1988), for which she is best known. By 2010 Baker had won eight Grammy awards and four of her albums had reached platinum status. Using her exceptional range and powerful voice, she has mixed soul, gospel, and R&B in an adult contemporary style, which some critics have called romantic soul. She has toured extensively, especially during the early 1990s and the mid-2000s. In ...

Article

David Toop

American record producer. A club DJ in Boston, he ventured into dance music production by borrowing money from relatives. After producing a number of obscure dance singles he moved to New York in 1979, the year in which the first rap records were released. A meeting with Tom Silverman led to Baker's engineering and producing Silverman's second release on his new Tommy Boy label, Jazzy Sensation by the Jazzy Five. The next single, Planet Rock by Afrika Bambaataa and Soul Sonic Force, was influenced by the electronic music of Kraftwerk, Yellow Magic Orchestra and Gary Numan and changed the sound of hip hop. Released in 1982, Planet Rock was produced by Baker, along with the ideas of Silverman and Bambaataa and the musicianship of John Robie. Baker's association with futuristic dance music, known as electro, led to production work for New Order and Freeze, along with further Afrika Bambaataa releases such as ...

Article

J. Bradford Robinson

[Chesney Henry ]

J. Bradford Robinson

(b Yale, OK, Dec 23, 1929; d Amsterdam, May 13, 1988). American jazz trumpeter and singer. He first encountered jazz while playing in army bands, and by the time of his discharge in 1951 his distinctive, reticent style was fully developed. In 1952 he played briefly with Charlie Parker before beginning an important association with Gerry Mulligan in the latter’s celebrated ‘pianoless’ quartet. His performances with the group, particularly his ballad rendition of My Funny Valentine (1952, Fan.), brought him instant fame; his clear tone and subdued, lyrical manner – he rarely played louder than mezzo-forte and sometimes restricted his melodic span to less than an octave – immediately became hallmarks of West Coast cool jazz, and were widely imitated. After leaving Mulligan in 1953 Baker rejoined Parker briefly and then led his own groups. He continued to dominate domestic and international jazz opinion polls for the next few years. Thereafter, owing largely to the effects of drug addiction, his career became erratic, being interrupted at one point by a prison sentence in Italy for drug-related offences (...

Article

Lars Helgert

(Lucille)

(b Caldwell County, NC, March 31, 1913; d Sept 23, 2006, Fairfax, VA). American guitarist and banjoist. She began guitar studies with her father, Boone Reid, at the age of three. Baker, who specialized in the Piedmont blues style, was known only in her home region of North Carolina until she was discovered by the folksinger Paul Clayton, who made a recording of her that appeared as part of the 1956 release Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians. Although this recording brought Baker considerable attention, she initially declined to pursue music professionally, opting in favor of family life and her job at a local textile company. Her career as a professional musician began in the 1970s, after her husband Lee Baker had died and her children had grown to adulthood. Baker and several of her family members recorded the album Music From the Hills of Caldwell County, which was released in ...

Article

(b St. Louis, MO, June 3, 1906; d Paris, France, April 12, 1975). American dancer and singer, naturalized French. She started out dancing on the streets of St. Louis with the Jones Family Band, a vaudeville troupe. After touring the South with the Dixie Steppers, she gained attention in the touring company of Shuffle Along (1921), the most important African American show of the decade. A member of the female dancing chorus, Baker stood out by making faces and embellishing dance moves, mixing comedy with the erotic persona of the black chorus girl. After appearing on Broadway in The Chocolate Dandies (1924) as That Comedy Chorus Girl, Baker travelled to Paris with La revue nègre (1925), a nightclub revue that introduced the new black performance styles of Broadway to French audiences. Her pas de deux “Danse Sauvage,” which she performed with her partner Joe Alex, introduced an explicit eroticism and exuberant physicality which marked Baker’s initial renown. Famously appearing at times with little more than a string of bananas around her waist, she made an impact on French popular culture that was immediate and enduring....

Article

Ronnie Pugh

revised by Kevin Kehrberg

[Kenneth Clayton]

(b Burdine, KY, June 26, 1926; d Gallatin, TN, July 8, 2011). American fiddler. His artistry spanned multiple styles, but his extensive career in bluegrass and long association with Bill Monroe led to his reputation as America’s quintessential bluegrass fiddler. Although he came from generations of old-time fiddle players, he played mostly guitar as a youth, accompanying his father’s fiddle playing at local dances. During naval service in World War II he began playing fiddle for troop events and decided to concentrate on the instrument. In addition to country fiddlers, Baker listened to the jazz and swing styles of Stephane Grappelli, Bob Wills, and Marion Sumner.

For years Baker worked in eastern Kentucky’s coalmines with interruptions to play professionally. From 1953 to 1957 he played with Don Gibson. In the late 1950s he started performing periodically as a member of Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys; this collaboration led to a now-historic stint that lasted from ...

Article

Edward Komara

[Little Miss Sharecropper; Bea Baker]

(b Chicago, IL, Nov 11, 1929; d New York, NY, March 10, 1997). American rhythm and blues singer. Research by Chip Deffaa suggests that references to her birth name as Dolores (or Delores) Williams may be in error. She was a niece of blues singer Merline Johnson and a distant relative of Memphis Minnie. As a teenager she sang in Chicago nightclubs. She performed and recorded for the National label as Little Miss Sharecropper, and as Bea Baker for Okeh. In 1953 she began an 11-year association with Atlantic Records, for which she sang the hit versions of “Tweedle Dee” (1955), “Bop-Ting-A-Ling” (1955), “Still” (1956), “Jim Dandy” (1956), and “I Cried A Tear” (1959). During the same period, rock-and-roll DJ Alan Freed featured her on his touring shows and in his movies.

After a stint with Brunswick Records (...

Article

Balada  

Daniel Party

Spanish-language variant of the international pop music ballad. A hybrid of Mexican bolero, Italian and French orchestrated love songs, and early rock and roll ballads, balada emerged simultaneously in Spain and throughout the Americas in the late 1960s. Lyrics are invariably about love and purposely lack references to socio-political issues or local events to maximize potential target audiences. Most often performed by a solo singer, early balada moves at a slow to moderate tempo, and the musical accompaniment, by either a rock ensemble or a studio orchestra, is secondary to the voice. Early baladistas include Mexicans Carlos Lico and Armando Manzanero, Cuban American La Lupe, Spaniards Raphael and Julio Iglesias, Brazilian Roberto Carlos, Argentines Leonardo Favio and Sandro, and Chilean band Los Ángeles Negros.

During the 1970s, the genre’s golden age, balada featured sophisticated orchestral arrangements and lavish studio production, a trend developed in Spain by producer Rafael Trabucchelli and arranger Waldo de los Ríos. In the 1980s, Miami became the most important balada production center, as the city grew into the main hub for United States marketing and distribution in Latin America. The Miami-based balada industry served as a gateway for Latin American artists hoping to extend their popularity beyond their country of origin to the rest of Latin America and the United States. Balada albums produced in Miami are not limited to slow romantic ballads, but also include up-tempo, dance-oriented songs. During its golden age, the majority of balada singers were males, who targeted a mostly female audience by appearing sensitive and vulnerable. Baladas were regularly featured in Latin American soap opera soundtracks, and many baladistas, such as José Luis Rodríguez, Chayanne, and Daniela Romo, starred in soap operas....

Article

Dale Cockrell

(b Cleveland, OH, July 21, 1878; d Santa Ana, CA, May 3, 1927). American composer and singer. After studying music at the Cleveland Conservatory he went to New York, where he became a pianist in vaudeville theaters and a founding member of ASCAP. From 1907 to 1927 he was a staff pianist and composer at M. Witmark and Sons. His first success came with the ballad “Will you love me in December as you do in May?,” written in 1905 to lyrics by Jimmy Walker. Many of his most popular songs thereafter were composed for the Irish tenors John McCormack and Chauncey Olcott, with whom he also collaborated. Ball composed some 400 songs, including such standards as “Mother Machree” (1910), “When Irish Eyes are Smiling” (1913), and “A Little Bit of Heaven” (1914). Much of the last decade of his life was spent performing in vaudeville. His film biography, ...

Article

Jonas Westover

(b Orange, TX, March 20, 1949). American blues singer and pianist. Ball began playing piano at age five, one in a long line of female pianists in her family. Her earliest influences were Tin Pan Alley songs, but as a young teenager she became interested in soul and blues music. Inspired by the music of Irma Thomas, Ball continued to play, attended Louisiana State University and performed with the blues/rock band, Gum. She decided to leave the area in 1970, but only made it as far as Austin, TX, where she put together a band named Freda and the Firedogs. Ball began songwriting in earnest around the same time, feeling a kindred spirit in the music of Professor Longhair. She was signed to Capitol Records in 1974, and launched her solo career with the album, Circuit Queen (1978). In the next two decades, she would release six records on Rounder Records while working on her personal sound, which has been described as a mix between “Texas stomp-rock” and “Louisiana swamp blues.” One of her most successful albums was ...

Article

Randolph Love

[Kendricks, John Henry]

(b Detroit, MI, Nov 18, 1927; d Los Angeles, CA, March 2, 2003). American rhythm and blues singer and songwriter. He began his career with the Detroit-based group, the Royals. His first success came with the song “Work with me, Annie” (Federal, 1954), which was a hit on the R&B chart. By 1958 the Royals had changed their name to Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, reflecting the influence and success of Ballard as its lead singer and songwriter. By 1961, when Ballard left the group to perform under his own name, he had 22 singles on the R&B charts with three different labels, Federal, Vee-Jay, and King. Before his retirement in the early 1970s, two more of his songs were listed on the R&B charts.

Undoubtedly his best and most successful song was “The Twist” which he wrote in 1958. Dick Clark, when asked what he considered the most significant song in rock-and-roll history, said, “That’s easy; it was ‘The Twist’,” explaining that the song represented “the first time that parents and their kids could freely admit they liked rock and roll.” Although Ballard claimed that he always believed the song would be a hit—“just for the lyric ‘the twist’,”—it was Chubby Checker’s version that achieved the most success, reaching the top of the charts in ...

Article

Chris McDonald

Canadian rock group. It comprised Robbie Robertson (b Toronto, ON, 5 July 1943; electric guitar and songwriting), Levon Helm (b Elaine, AR, 26 May 1940; d Woodstock, NY, 19 April 2012; drums), Richard Manuel (b Stratford, ON, 3 April 1943; d Winter Park, FL, 4 March 1986; piano and songwriting), Rick Danko (b Simcoe, ON, 29 Dec 1942; d Hurley, NY, 10 Dec 1999; bass guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and songwriting), and Garth Hudson (b Windsor, ON, 2 Aug 1937; organ, accordion, woodwind, and brass). All except Hudson also sang.

Following a move to Toronto in 1958, the Arkansas rockabilly performer Ronnie Hawkins hired a backing group that later became the Band. Helm was the original drummer, but other positions in the group changed for three years, until Robertson, Manuel, Danko, and Hudson were established as permanent members. In 1964 the group left Hawkins and performed first as the Levon Helm Sextet, then Levon Helm and the Hawks, and finally as the Band. The group was hired by Bob Dylan to back him on his first electric rock tour (...

Article

Banda  

Helena Simonett

[Banda Sinaloense]

Banda (band) is a generic Spanish term for a variety of ensembles consisting of brass, woodwind, and percussion instruments found throughout Latin America. Introduced in the mid-1800s, brass bands were a fixture of Mexico’s musical life in the late 19th century and flourished in both rural and urban areas. With the revolutionary movement (1910–20) bandas populares (popular bands) developed pronounced regional characteristics, and the lineup in regional bands became increasingly more standardized.

Among the many regional bands, banda sinaloense (Sinaloan banda) stands out, as this type gained a reputation in the international popular music market at the close of the twentieth century. The ensemble dates back to the military bands of European colonists and to the brass music of German immigrants to Mexico’s northern Pacific coast in the mid-19th century. After its consolidation in the early 20th century, band membership in Sinaloa averaged from nine to 12 musicians playing clarinets, cornets or trumpets, trombones with valves, saxhorns, tubas, snare drums (...

Article

Helena Simonett

[de Cruz Lizárraga]

Internationally renowned Mexican banda, originally from the village of El Recodo, some 30 miles from Mazatlán, Sinaloa. Clarinetist Cruz Lizárraga (b El Recodo, 1918; d Mazatlán, 1995), who led the band starting in 1938, secured a recording session with RCA-Victor in Mexico City in 1954 which helped to establish the band’s name beyond its regional confines. Its key to success was the musicians’ ability to accommodate their ranchera (country) music to an urban audience of the upper social strata by adopting international popular dance styles from fox trot and Cuban danzón to mambo and cumbia. Due to the band’s professional accomplishments, Lizárraga was always able to recruit the best performers out of a large pool of regional musicians. Although Banda El Recodo recorded with famous ranchera singers such as José Alfredo Jiménez in 1968, it was not until the early 1990s, when Sinaloan banda entered a new phase of international commercialization, that it began to integrate vocalists into the hitherto purely instrumental makeup. After Lizárraga’s death, his sons resumed leadership of the band. Nowadays, Banda El Recodo is one of Sinaloa’s commercially oriented, high-profile touring bands that perform styles increasingly defined by the transnational music market....