Turn the Pandemic into a BANDemic

Face Masks

With the Swing City Radio Face Covering Mask the only thing you will be spreading is your love for Big Band and Swing Music. These 100% premium cotton face masks are both comfortable and lightweight.  All profits from the sales of Swing City Radio Merchandise are used to cover the station's expenses and growth.

Let's turn the Pandemic into a "Bandemic"

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The CDC recommends the use of cloth face coverings as face masks to supplement social distancing in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. While the CDC's guidance recommends even homemade cloth face coverings to help slow the spread of the virus, now you can go a step further with a Swing City Radio decorated cotton face mask.

Here's a couple more options that may interest you!




Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday

Billie Holiday, born Eleanora Fagan, was a very talented singer with a career spanning nearly thirty years. Nicknamed "Lady Day" - Holiday had a huge influence on jazz music and pop singing overall. Her vocal style, strongly inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. She was known for her vocal delivery and improvisational skills.  She was born in Philadelphia, PA in 1915.

After a terrible childhood, Holiday began singing in nightclubs in Harlem, where she was heard by the producer John Hammond. She signed a recording contract with Brunswick Records in 1935. Throughout the 1930's and 1940's, Holiday had mainstream success on labels such as Columbia and Decca. By the late 1940's, however, her life was filled with legal troubles and drug abuse. After a short prison sentence, she performed at a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall, but her reputation deteriorated because of her drug and alcohol problems.

She was a successful concert performer throughout the 1950's with two further sold-out shows at Carnegie Hall. Due to personal struggles and an altered voice, her final years were met with mixed reaction. She released her final album, Lady in Satin, in 1958. Billie Holiday died of cirrhosis in 1959.

God Bless the Child

Billie Holiday's life was so complex and so tragic at times that many books and movies have been made about her life.  One story that stands out to me is the circumstances and inspiration behind her classic song "God Bless the Child."

Holiday's mother Sadie Fagan, nicknamed "The Duchess", opened a restaurant called Mom Holiday's.  "It kept Mom busy and happy and stopped her from worrying and watching over me", Holiday said. Fagan began borrowing large amounts of money from Holiday to support the restaurant. Holiday obliged but soon fell on hard times herself due to personal troubles and addictions.  Billie later described the indecent to a reporter: "I needed some money one night and I knew Mom was sure to have some", she said. "So I walked in the restaurant like a stockholder and asked. Mom turned me down flat. She wouldn't give me a cent." The two argued, and Holiday shouted angrily, "God bless the child that's got his own", and stormed out. With Arthur Herzog, Jr., she wrote a song based on the lyric, "God Bless the Child", and added music.

Audio of "God Bless the Child" by Billie Holiday

"God Bless the Child" later became Holiday's most popular and most covered record. It reached number 25 on the charts in 1941 and was third in Billboard's songs of the year, selling over a million records.

You can hear a lot of Billie Holiday's songs right here on Swing City Radio.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Podcast: Episode 13

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 13: Boyd Raeburn and the Secret Behind "Go Power"


Audio Player to Listen to Podcast

Hey there everyone. Hold onto your hats, because you will finally be introduced to The Panoram 2000. So get ready to hear some Soundies in this episode. We'll be listening to some great songs from Stan Kenton, Jimmie Lunceford, Mal Hallett and England's Original Blonde Bombshell, Evelyn Dall. A live radio recording of Louis Prima from January of 1945 will also be played.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Hal Kemp

Hal Kemp Album Cover

Hal Kemp was an alto saxophonist, clarinetist and bandleader who passed away at the height of The Big Band Era. He was also an excellent composer and arranger whose songs features a distinctive sound and feel.

 In 1927, Kemp formed his own orchestra, which at various times featured Bunny Berigan, Skinnay Ennis and John Scott Trotter, and the band became a popular jazz orchestra in the late 1920s.

In the 1930s,  Kemp's band became better known for more soothing "sweet" dance music which was gaining popularity during the gloom and doom of The Great Depression. From 1932 to 1934, they performed at the Blackhawk Restaurant in Chicago, and appeared regularly on radio broadcasts. They became well-known nationally, and eventually signed with Brunswick Records.

Kemp and his orchestra had a number of hit records, including "The Music Goes 'Round And Around", "Shuffle Off to Buffalo", "In the Middle of a Kiss", "This Year's Kisses" and "Lullaby Of Broadway".  In 1937, Kemp left Brunswick Records and signed with Victor Records.

Audio of Hal Kemp's "Shuffle Off to Buffalo"

Hal Kemp died in California in 1940, aged 36, following a road accident. His car was hit by an oncoming truck, and he died in hospital from pneumonia two days later.

You can hear the many hits of Hal Kemp right here on Swing City Radio.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Memorial Day - 2020


"We Remember, We Honor and We are Eternally Grateful for Your Ultimate Sacrifice for Our Country."

For our International Listening Audience:
Memorial Day in the United States is a solemn day of remembrance for everyone who has died serving in the American armed forces.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Martha Tilton

Martha Tilton

Martha Tilton was a popular vocalist during the Big Band Era and is frequently associated with Benny Goodman even though she had a very successful solo career.  Nicknamed "The Liltin' Miss Tilton", Martha is best known for her 1939 recording of "And the Angels Sing" with Benny Goodman and His Orchestra.

Audio of "And The Angels Sing" - Benny Goodman with Martha Tilton on Vocals

Martha dropped out of high school to join Hal Grayson's band while still a teen. She later joined the quartet Three Hits and a Miss, before being hired by Benny Goodman to sing with his band in August 1937. She was with Goodman in January 1938, when the band performed their famous "Carnegie Hall Concert". In my opinion, her version of "Loch Lomond" was a major highlight of that fantastic concert performance.  She continued to appear as Goodman's star vocalist until the end of 1939.

After her departure from Goodman's band, Tilton found major success as a solo artist and was one of the first artists to record for Capitol Records. Her first recording for Capitol was "Moon Dreams", composed by Johnny Mercer and Glenn Miller pianist Chummy MacGregor in 1942. .

Martha Tilton's biggest hits as a solo artist were "I'll Walk Alone", "I Should Care" and "A Stranger in Town," "How Are Things in Glocca Morra" and "That's My Desire" After she left Capitol, Tilton recorded for other labels, including Coral and Tops. She never achieved the same level of success with those label but that was largely due to the changing landscape of popular music at that time.

Tilton also appeared in a handful of films over the years.  She passed away in 2006 at the age of 91.

You can hear Martha Tilton's beautiful voice on many Goodman songs and solo material played right here on Swing City Radio.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Podcast: Episode 12

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 12: Soundies, a Blonde Bombshell and Catsup


Audio Player to Listen to Podcast

Hey there everyone. Hold onto your hats, because you will finally be introduced to The Panoram 2000. So get ready to hear some Soundies in this episode. We'll be listening to some great songs from Stan Kenton, Jimmie Lunceford, Mal Hallett and England's Original Blonde Bombshell, Evelyn Dall. A live radio recording of Louis Prima from January of 1945 will also be played.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Tar Paper Stomp Riff

Tar Paper Stomp Riff

"Tar Paper Stomp" is a 1930 recording by bandleader and trumpeter Wingy Manone. The instrumental featured a classic swing riff that was later used in the songs "Hot and Anxious" and "In the Mood."

Wingy Manone recorded "Tar Paper Stomp", also known as "Wingy's Stomp" or "Wingy's Blues", on August 28, 1930 in Richmond, Indiana. It was released on September 19, 1930 as a 78 rpm single on Champion Records credited to Barbeque Joe and his Hot Dogs. The recording was re-released in 1937 as a Decca 78 rpm single credited to Wingy Mannone and His Orchestra. Notice the extra "n" in his name.  I'm not sure if that was done intentionally or if it was a misprint by the label.

Wingy didn't know at the time how much impact his little riff  would have on some of the hits of the Big Band Era. Under copyright laws, a tune that had not been written down and registered with the copyright office was not protected.  This was unfortunate for Wingy.

Fletcher Henderson and his Orchestra used the same riff from "Tar Paper Stomp" in "Hot and Anxious" in 1931 followed by Don Redman's version of the song.  A song entitled "Hot String Beans" released by Joe Marsala (featuring a young Buddy Rich) in 1938 also featured the riff but it wasn't as predominant.  But in 1939, Glenn Miller took the riff to a whole new level in his classic, "In the Mood."

Below you can listen to examples of the evolution of the famous riff:

Audio of "Tar Paper Stomp" by Wingy Manone

Audio of "Hot and Anxious" by Don Redman

Audio of "In the Mood" by Glenn Miller

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Count Basie

Basie

Count Basie was one of the most influential bandleaders of the Big Band Era. In 1935, Basie formed his own jazz orchestra, the Count Basie Orchestra, and in 1936 took them to Chicago for a long engagement and their first recordings. He led the group for almost 50 years and many musicians came to prominence under his direction.

In 1929, Basie became the pianist with the Bennie Moten band based in Kansas City. The Moten band was more refined and respected, playing in the "Kansas City stomp" style.  In addition to playing piano, Basie was also co-arranger with Eddie Durham. Their song "Moten Swing", (which Basie claimed credit) was widely acclaimed and was an invaluable contribution to the development of Swing music.

Basie played with the Bennie Moten band (except for a small stint) until Moten's death in 1935.  When Moten died, the band tried to stay together but couldn't make a go of it. Basie then formed his own nine-piece band, Barons of Rhythm, with many former Moten members including names like Freddie Green, Lester Young and Jimmy Rushing.

The Barons of Rhythm were regulars at the Reno Club and often performed for a live radio broadcast. During a broadcast the announcer wanted to give Basie's name some style, so he called him "Count." Little did Basie and the Big Band World know that this touch of of classy royalty would give him proper status with the likes of Duke Ellington and Earl Hines.

While playing at the Reno Club they were sometimes broadcasted on local radio. Late one night with time to fill, the band started improvising. Basie liked the results and named the piece "One O'Clock Jump. It became his signature tune.

Count Basie and His Orchestra's recording of "The One O'Clock Jump"

By the end of 1936, Basie and his band were now billed as "Count Basie and His Barons of Rhythm." Basie moved the band from Kansas City to Chicago, where they developed their sound at a long engagement at the Grand Terrace Ballroom. Right from the start, Basie's band was noted for its rhythm section and his sound was characterized by a "jumping" beat.

Basie favored blues, and he would later showcase some of the most notable blues singers of the era including Billie Holiday, Jimmy Rushing, Big Joe Turner, Helen Humes, and Joe Williams. He also hired arrangers who knew how to maximize the band's abilities, such as Eddie Durham and Jimmy Mundy.

After a short time in Chicago, Basie and the Band moved on to New York City. The band played engagements at the Woodside Hotel in Harlem and the Savoy. In early 1938, the Savoy was the meeting ground for a "battle of the bands" with Chick Webb's group. Basie had Billie Holiday at that time, and Webb countered with the singer Ella Fitzgerald. As Metronome magazine proclaimed, "Basie's Brilliant Band Conquers Chick's"; the article described the evening:

"Throughout the fight, which never let down in its intensity during the whole fray, Chick took the aggressive, with the Count playing along easily and, on the whole, more musically scientifically. Undismayed by Chick's forceful drum beating, which sent the audience into shouts of encouragement and appreciation and casual beads of perspiration to drop from Chick's brow onto the brass cymbals, the Count maintained an attitude of poise and self-assurance. He constantly parried Chick's thundering haymakers with tantalizing runs and arpeggios which teased more and more force from his adversary."

Here a clip from 1941 that shows the energy of Count Basie and His Orchestra

The publicity over the big band battle gave the Basie band a boost and wider recognition. Soon after, Benny Goodman recorded their signature "One O'Clock Jump" with his band and things really took off for Count Basie. From that point forward Count Basie and His Orchestra became a large force in the Big Band Era influencing popular music and musicians of many genres.  You can hear Count Basie's music right here on Swing City Radio.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

New Alexa Skill

Swing City Radio Alexa Skill

Listening to our station on Amazon Echo and other Alexa related devices has just gotten so much easier.  Here's how to enable and use our New Alexa Skill:

To listen to Swing City Radio on your Alexa Device:

Step 1:

Enable the skill by simply saying “Alexa, ENABLE Swing City Radio SKILL.”

or you can...

Search for “Swing City Radio” in the Alexa Skills Store. Once there, select “Enable” and you will then be able to access Swing City Radio on all of your available Alexa devices.

Step 2:

Tune into our radio station by simply saying “Alexa, Swing City Radio”.
*** You don't have to say PLAY or anything else.  Just simply say “Alexa, Swing City Radio”.

Swing City Radio on Alexa

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

This Week on "Live at 5"

Family with Radio

Swing City Radio has decided to discontinue airing our show "Live at 5".  We will be introducing new programming in this time slot in the future.  If you have any comments or issues, please leave them in the comments section below or email us your comments here.

Thank you!  ...and thanks for listening to Swing City Radio.



About Live at 5:
Please keep in mind, some of the recordings featured on the show are almost 100 years old. Time has been spent trying to clean up some the audio, but the quality at times, on some of these recordings can be a little sketchy.  There may be some audio garbles, a brief volume drop or two and some pops, but they shouldn't take away from the enjoyment of the recording.  That being said, the content of these shows are classic, so if you need to adjust your volume a bit, I hope you'll find that it's worth it.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA

Podcast: Episode 11

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 11: Play Nice With Your Brothers and Sisters


Audio Player to Listen to Podcast

Hello People of Swing! This episode features music from some of the best "Brothers" and "Sisters" of the Big Band Era. We will hear songs from The Dinning Sisters, The Mills Brothers, The King Sisters and The Andrews Sisters. We also listen to a historic recording from The Dorsey Brothers as well as a live radio performance from Bing and Bob Crosby. The Panoram 2000 makes it's podcast debut as we listen to the audio of a Soundie by The Stuart Sisters.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Will Bradley

Will Bradley

Will Bradley was a bandleader whose career took off during the 1930s and still had impact into the 1940s. He also played a great trombone.  His influence was strongly felt in Boogie-Woogie music.  Boogie-Woogie had a great beat to dance to, so naturally it became a large influence on the dance bands of the 1930's.

In the late 1920's and 30's, he was a member of bands such as Red Nichols and His Five Pennies and The Ray Noble Orchestra.  In 1939 he started a big band with Ray McKinley, a swing drummer and vocalist from Texas. The band included Freddie Slack, Arthur Rollini and Lee Castle to name a few.  Many of his best songs were written by Don Raye.

The Bradley band became well known for Boogie-Woogie music.  "Beat Me Daddy (Eight to the Bar)" is a perfect example of that.   Take a listen:

Audio of "Beat Me Daddy (Eight to the Bar)" by William Bradley and His Orchestra

The song reached the top ten in the charts, as did "Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat" and "Down the Road a Piece". The latter song was recorded by the Will Bradley Trio.

Audio of "Scrub Me Mama with a Boogie Beat" by William Bradley and His Orchestra

In 1942, Ray McKinley departed to form his own band. Bradley hired trumpeter Shorty Rogers and drummer Shelly Manne in a failed effort to keep the band rolling, but many members wound up in the military due to the draft, and the band dissolved.

You can hear Will Bradley right here on Swing City Radio.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Red Nichols

Red Nichols Playing

Friday, May 8th, will mark the birthday of the famed Red Nichols.  Red was an expert cornet player and was the leader of "Red Nichols and the Five Pennies."  It is rumored that he appeared on over 4,000 recordings during the 1920's alone.

Red was born and raised in Ogden, Utah in the United States.  In the early 1920's, Nichols moved to the Midwest and joined a band called The Syncopating Seven. When that band broke up, he joined the Johnny Johnson Orchestra and went with it to New York City in 1923. New York remained his base for years to come.

In New York, he met and teamed up with trombonist Miff Mole. Nichols and Mole would end up having a close musical relationship spanning for a decade and the results would be a historic collection of some of the best Dixieland ever recorded.

In 1926, Nichols and Mole began recording the Brunswick label with a variety of bands, most of them known as Red Nichols and His Five Pennies. The name was a pun on "nickel". Five Pennies equal a Nickel, see what he did there. :)

Listen to: "Ida! Sweet As Apple Cider" by Red Nichols and His Five Pennies

He also recorded under The Arkansas Travelers, The California Red Heads, The Louisiana Rhythm Kings, The Charleston Chasers, Red and Miff's Stompers, and Miff Mole and His Little Molers. During some weeks, Nichols and his bands were recording 10 to 12 records. That was just unheard of at that time.

Check out some of the names that played with Nichols in his bands: Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, Glenn Miller, Jack Teagarden, Pee Wee Russell, and Gene Krupa to name just some.

Listen to: "Five Pennies" by The Charleston Chasers

In the next decade, swing eclipsed the Dixieland music Nichols loved to play. He tried to follow the changes and formed a swing band, but his recording career seemed to stall in 1932. During the balance of the 30's, Nichols played stints with show bands and pit orchestras.  In the War Years, Red worked in the shipyards and later joined the United States Army.

After the war, Nichols was unable to stay away from music. He formed a new Five Pennies band and began playing small clubs in the Los Angeles area. Before long, word got out and musicians and old friends began showing up, turning his gigs into jam sessions.  How cool is that.  I'm trying to find some of those recordings, if any.

In 1965, Nichols took his Five Pennies band to Las Vegas to play a stint at the Mint Hotel. He was only a few days into the stint when, on June 28, 1965, he passed away from a heart attack. That night, the band went on as scheduled, and in a touching tribute, a spotlight pointed down at an empty chair in Nichols' customary spot.

Listen to Swing City Radio and you will hear many songs by Red Nichols and his multiple bands.  Nichols was such an influence on the music we know and love.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Podcast: Episode 10

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 10: Les and More


Audio Player to Listen to Podcast

Hello there members of the Swing community! In this episode we hear songs from Jimmie Lunceford, Claude Thornhill and the Boswell Sisters. We also listen to a Les Brown performance from the Hollywood Palladium recorded in September of 1945. This episode will leave you feeling clean and fresh scented.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Elmer's Tune

Elmer's Tune 78rpm

The song "Elmer's Tune", was hit record for both Glenn Miller and Dick Jurgens in the early 1940's.  It's a bouncy little song that leaves the listener humming the melody hours later. (Well, that's how it works in my case. haha)  I've included a video of the song directly below so you can hear it for yourself, just in case you are unfamiliar with the song.  So let's look at the story behind this song.

Video of Glenn Miller's recording of "Elmer's Tune"

Origins of Elmer's Tune

A gentleman by the name of Elmer Albrecht penned this song in the early 1920's. Elmer was working at a funeral parlor in Chicago as an embalmer. That is where he worked out the original tune and melody. Luckily, for fans of the song, there was a piano located in the back of this parlor.

Over the years, still working as an embalmer, Albrecht would play this song in small night clubs around the Chicago area. He even offered the song to Ted Weems at one point but was turned down.  Then in 1941, he approached Dick Jurgens with the song.  Dick Jurgens' band was in the middle of a stint at Chicago's Aragon Ballroom.  At first, Jurgens also turned down the song, but Albrecht was persistent and Jurgens finally agreed to arrange the song for his orchestra.

After a short time, the band was set to perform the newly arranged song, but still didn't have a name for it.  Band members bickered over what the name should be. Jurgen's finally suggested the generic "Elmer's Tune" and the name stuck.

Recordings of the Song

In April of 1941, Jurgens and his Orchestra recorded an instrumental version of "Elmer's Tune" for the Okeh Label and it reached #8 in the charts.  This got the attention of Glenn Miller, who asked Jurgens if he could record a version of the song with lyrics.  Sammy Gallop was hired to write the lyrics. (The credits for the song from that point forward include Albrecht, Gallop and Jurgens.) Miller recorded his version in August of '41 and by December of that year the song had reached #1 on the Billboard Charts.

Glenn Miller's recording of the song was the most popular.  But many others recorded versions of the tune including Benny Goodman, The Andrews Sisters, Bob Crosby, Lawrence Welk, Blue Barron, Bert Ambrose and many more.  It still amazes me what you can learn when you poke around to learn the origins of a particular song.  I would have never imagined that this bouncy little diddy originated in the back room of a funeral parlor.  :)

Video of the Dick Jurgens recording of "Elmer's Tune"

You can hear different versions of 'Elmer's Tune" right here on Swing City Radio.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

The New Swing City Radio App

New App

Hello People of Swing!  Over the last few months many of you have asked "Does Swing City Radio have a Smartphone App?" ... and my answer has been "Nope."   Well, those days are done!

I'd like to officially announce that we finally have a Radio App.  Yay!  You can get our FREE App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play.  I've included direct links below, just click on the button that matches your phone.  It also plays on tablets, but remember it was a designed for phones so if it looks a little sketchy don't think it's your device or that something is wrong.

App Store

Google Play

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

The Boswell Sisters

Listen to the Boswell Sisters on Swing City Radio

The Boswell Sisters were one of the most influential female singing trios of the Swing Era. Martha Boswell, Connee Boswell and Helvetia "Vet" Boswell hailed from New Orleans. The Boswell Sisters are remembered for their unique harmonies and ground-breaking arrangements. They attained national prominence in the United States during 1930's.  The trio was also known for fusing 'Black' and 'White' styles of vocalization and instrumentation into their music. Their collaborations with the popular swing musicians of their day including the: Dorsey Brothers, Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, had a huge effect on the development of Big Band Music.

Martha, Connie, and Vet grew up with formal, classical musical education. But in addition to that, their mother would take her daughters regularly to see the leading African–American performers of the day at the Lyric Theatre. These experiences would later influence their "sound". In interviews, the sisters recalled driving around New Orleans listening for new and interesting sounds, which they often found outside African–American churches and barrooms.  As the Boswell girls got older, Vet took up the banjo and Connie the saxophone. Martha continued playing the piano but focused on the rhythms and idioms of ragtime and hot jazz.

Video of "The Object of My Affection"

In 1925 they made their first record for the Victor Records. After touring with a vaudeville company through the Southern portions of the United States, the sisters arrived in Los Angeles in October 1929. They began appearing on radio programs and recording music for movies.

Their unique approach to reworking melodies and their improvisational styles had mixed reviews in the beginning.  But, as we all know, most ground-breaking artists go through that and after relocating to New York City in 1930, the Boswell Sisters soon attained national attention. They began making national radio broadcasts including a program on CBS that ran from 1931 to 1933.

Also in 1931, The Boswell Sisters signed a contract with Brunswick Records and made recordings from 1931 to 1935. The Brunswick recordings are regarded as milestone recordings of vocal jazz.  While recording for Brunswick, The Boswell Sisters had great artistic control and took greater liberties in their music like regularly changing style, tempo, lyrics and time signatures.

In 1936, the group signed to Decca, but after just three records they broke up. Connie Boswell continued to have a successful solo career as a singer for Decca. In the 1940's, she changed the spelling of her name from Connie to Connee.

Movie Clip of The Boswell Sisters singing "Crazy People"

The Boswell Sisters chalked up 20 hits during the 1930's, including their number-one song "The Object of My Affection" in 1935 (video included above in this article).  They also appeared in movie during this time as well.  When you get down to it, The Boswell Sisters were among radio's earliest stars. They were an influence to other artists as well.  The Andrews Sisters admittedly started out as imitators of the Boswell Sisters. Ella Fitzgerald, grew up loving the Boswell Sisters and idolized Connee.  The Boswell's influence can still be heard today in artists like the Puppini Sisters and others.

The Boswell Sisters in a movie clip.  Abe Lyman makes a cameo appearance.

You can hear the music of the Boswell Sisters right here on Swing City Radio.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Podcast: Episode 9

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast - Episode 9: The Sentimental Journey of Johnny Zero


Audio Player to Listen to Podcast

Hello there People of Swing! In this episode we hear songs from Count Basie, Marion Hutton and the Modernaires, Johnny Mercer and Doris Day. We also listen to Benny Goodman performing Sing, Sing, Sing from a V-Disc issued in October of 1943. Warning: Gremlins may appear in this episode.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.
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