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Music History - Big Band 1930s-1940s

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Cab Calloway and His Cott...

Lena Horne (Collier's Magazine, 1943)

Widely seen mid-way through the year 1943 was this COLLIER'S MAGAZINE profile of singer Lena Horne (1917 2010) who impressed the the West-coast press corps in the same way she did the ink-stained wretches of the East:

"When she was sixteen she was in the chorus at the Cotton Club in Harlem, getting that job through her mother who was then playing in-stock at the old Lafayette Theater on Lenox Avenue... Her name up to then was Helena Horne, but Barney [Josephson] ruthlessly dropped the added letters. He also taught her a great deal about using her personality in her songs."


George Gershwin: Tin Pan Alley and Beyond (Magazine of Art, 1937)

An interesting two page article about George Gershwin (1898 - 1937), written within days of his death and filled with fascinating bits about his career, education and his instant popularity:

"The Gershwin invasion of Tin Pan Alley came at a time when history was being made. The Broadway-Negro tradition that stemmed from Stephen Foster and the anonymous tune-smiths who wrote old minstrel shows, was being carried on by bards like Paul Dresser, Harry von Tilzer, and the amazing Witmark family. Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin labored in the Alley cubicles. Something called ragtime was in the air and jazz was about to be born."

More about Gershwin can be read here


Irving Berlin (Stage Magazine, 1938)

Here is an article that discusses the surprising relevance that the music of Irving Berlin (1888 1989) was playing in the American music world of the 1930s.

Click here to read about Irving Berlin's theatrical production during W.W. I...


Benny Goodman, The King of Swing, on Park Avenue (Stage Magazine, 1938)

To mark the momentous occasion of Benny Goodman and his Band performing for the 'corsage clique' on Park Avenue in 1938, 'the King of Swing' wrote this short essay concerning all his good work and the enjoyment that it brought to the Jitterbuggers of the world:

"Swing is violent, at least so they tell me. But I'm willing to bet that Society is going to toss aside its toppers and tippers and really cut loose. They'll all come slumming and stay for dancing."


Big Bandleader Cab Calloway (Coronet Magazine, 1941)

The attached six page article about Cab Calloway (1907 1994) makes no mention whatever of the three movies he had appeared in prior to 1941, but it answers many other questions you might have had about the musician's first thirty-one years.


Glenn Miller (Coronet Magazine, 1954)

Ten years after the death of Big Band legend Glenn Miller (1904 1944), it was found that his record sales were going through the roof at 16,000,000 per annum, and Hollywood had attempted to cash-in on his memory by releasing a (bland) Technicolor bio-pic, appropriately titled, The Glenn Miller Story(Universal) - with Jimmy Stewart starring in the title roll. The band leader's popularity was obvious to everyone in 1944, when he was killed in the war, but no one could have predicted this.


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