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Maxine Sullivan

Maxine Sullivan (May 13, 1911 – April 7, 1987), was an American jazz vocalist and performer.

As a vocalist, Maxine Sullivan was active for half a century, from the mid-1930s to just before her death in 1987. She is best known for her 1937 recording of a swing version of the Scottish folk song "Loch Lomond". Throughout her career, Sullivan also appeared as a performer on film as well as on stage. A precursor to better-known later vocalists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, Maxine Sullivan is considered one of the best jazz vocalists of the 1930s. Singer Peggy Lee named Sullivan as a key influence in several interviews.

Sullivan began her music career singing in her uncle's band, The Red Hot Peppers, in her native Pennsylvania, in which she occasionally played the flugelhorn and the valve trombone, in addition to singing. In the mid 1930s she was discovered by Gladys Mosier (then working in Ina Ray Hutton's big band). Mosier introduced her to Claude Thornhill, which led to her first recordings made in June 1937. Shortly thereafter, Sullivan became a featured vocalist at the Onyx Club in New York City. During this period, she began forming a professional and close personal relationship with bassist John Kirby, who became her second husband in 1938.

Early sessions with Kirby in 1937 yielded a hit recording of a swing version of the Scottish folk song "Loch Lomond" featuring Sullivan on vocals. This early success "branded" Sullivan's style, leading her to sing similar swing arrangements of traditional folk tunes mostly arranged by pianist Claude Thornhill, such as "If I Had a Ribbon Bow" and "I Dream of Jeanie". Her early popularity also led to a brief appearance in the movie Going Places with Louis Armstrong.

In 1940, Sullivan and Kirby were featured on the radio program Flow Gently Sweet Rhythm, making them the first black jazz stars to have their own weekly radio series. During the 1940s Sullivan then performed with a wide range of bands, including her husband's sextet and groups headed by Teddy Wilson, Benny Carter, and Jimmie Lunceford.

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Listen to Maxine Sullivan on Swing City Radio.  We are a Big Band Radio Station playing a wide selection of Big Band and Swing music.

Swing City Radio plays Maxine Sullivan - Listen to our station and hear the songs:
Nice Work If You Can Get It
Night and Day
Loch Lomond

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