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Al Hibbler

Not just a distinctive singer but a true vocal wonder, Al Hibbler featured with Duke Ellington's Orchestra throughout the 1940s and recorded a few hits ("Unchained Melody," "After the Lights Go Down Low," "He") on his own for Decca and Atlantic during the '50s and '60s. His frequent use of a Cockney accent and non-subtle growling techniques kept listeners on their toes though, far from a novelty act, Hibbler's voice was strong, emotive, and masculine, with a steady vibrato that carried every record he made.

Born blind in Mississippi, he began singing early on and sang soprano in the choir of a school for the blind after moving to Little Rock at the age of 12. Inspired by lush ballad singers like Bing Crosby and Russ Columbo, Hibbler's voice soon deepened and he began singing the blues at area roadhouses. After winning a talent contest in Memphis, he joined Jay McShann and His Orchestra in 1942 and debuted with Duke Ellington's Orchestra just one year later, replacing Herb Jeffries. One of the most important singers Ellington ever showcased, Hibbler appeared on a range of Ellington standards including "Do Nothin' 'Til You Hear from Me," "Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues," "Don't Be so Mean to My Baby," and "I'm Just a Lucky So-and-So." He spent a total of eight years with Ellington's band, finally leaving in 1951 after Ellington refused to raise his salary by $50.

After quickly signing to Verve, Hibbler continued to record with excellent musicians (Harry Carney, Count Basie, Gerald Wilson) for his initial solo work, and in 1954 released an LP of old favorites entitled Al Hibbler Sings Duke Ellington. One year later, he signed a big contract with Decca and hit the pop charts in a big way with two million-selling singles, "Unchained Melody" and "He," spotlighting his idiosyncratic (to say the least) delivery, which veered from growling vocals to a carefully studied, almost Cockney accent only occasionally enforced. In 1956, Hibbler hit the Top Ten again with "After the Lights Go Down Low," but it proved to be his last hit.

By the late '50s, Hibbler had begun taking an interest in the civil-rights movement. While other major artists gave generously to the cause, Hibbler actually marched with protesters and was arrested twice, once in New Jersey in 1959 and again in Alabama in 1963 (after he led an anti-segregation protest). Though the major labels backed away from the potential controversy of owning his contract, Hibbler did gain support from an important source -- Frank Sinatra signed him to Reprise and released an LP, Monday Every Day, in 1961. Hibbler recorded very sparingly after that. He collaborated with Rahsaan Roland Kirk on a 1972 LP for Atlantic (A Meeting of the Times), but resurfaced only occasionally during the '80s and '90s for recordings or special performances. ~ John Bush
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: 1955 British Hit Parade: Britain's Greatest Hits Volume 4

Disc 1

1. Mr Sandman

2. Rock Around The Clock

3. Count Your Blessings

4. Happy Days And Lonely Nights

5. Give Me Your Word

6. Mr Sandman

7. Softly Softly

8. Happy Days & Lonely Nights

9. The Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane

10. Drink Drink Drink

11. Mambo Italiano

12. Happy Days And Lonely Nights

13. Let Me Go Lover

14. Beyond The Stars

15. The Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane

16. Mobile

17. Lonely Ballerina

19. Let Me Go Lover

20. Majorca

21. I'll Walk With God

22. A Blossom Fell

23. Let Me Go Lover

24. Somebody

25. Sincerely

Disc 2

1. Let Me Go Lover

2. A Blossom Fell

3. Tomorrow

4. In The Beginning

5. Wedding Bells

6. If Anyone Finds This I Love You

7. Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White

8. Prize Of Gold

9. Under The Bridges Of Paris

10. Stranger In Paradise

11. No More

12. Cherry Pink And Apple Blossom White

13. Ready Willing And Able

15. Under The Bridges Of Paris

16. Stranger In Paradise

17. Mambo Rock

18. Earth Angel

19. Stranger In Paradise

20. Tweedle Dee

21. Serenade

22. Melody Of Love

23. Open Up Your Heart

25. Dreamboat

Disc 3

1. Tweedle Dee

2. Stranger In Paradise

3. Unchained Melody

4. Where Will The Dimple Be

5. Paths Of Paradise

6. Stranger In Paradise

7. Elephant's Tango

8. Mama

10. Stranger In Paradise

11. I Wonder

13. Crazy Otto Rag

14. You My Love

15. The Man That Got Away

16. I Wonder

17. Unchained Melody

18. Cool Water

19. Stowaway

20. Evermore

21. Everyday Of My Life

22. Don't Worry

23. Ev'rywhere

24. Rose Marie

25. Sincerely

x

Track List: A Night Out With Verve (Box Set)

Disc 1

1. Come Dance With Me

2. There Is No Greater Love

3. As Long As I Live

4. I Wished On The Moon

5. A Smooth One

6. On The Sunny Side Of The Street

7. Whisper Not

8. Li'l Darlin'

9. Love You Madly

10. What's New

11. Broadway

12. You Are Too Beautiful

13. Portrait Of Jennie

14. Fall Out

15. La Vie En Rose

16. I Still Love Him So

Disc 2

1. If I Had You

2. Once I Loved [amor Em Paz]

3. Isn't It A Pity

4. My Foolish Heart

5. I Remember Clifford

6. It's Nice To Be With You

7. It Might As Well Be Spring

8. Isn't It Romantic

9. When A Woman Loves A Man

10. This Can't Be Love

11. You Go To My Head

12. Autumn In New York

13. But Beautiful

15. Manhattan

Disc 3

1. (Ad Lib) Fast Dances

4. The Organ Grinder's Swing

7. At Last

8. Little Girl Blue

9. So Danca Samba

10. Shall We Dance

11. Rose Room

12. King Porter Stomp

13. Taking A Chance On Love

14. Corner Pocket

15. (Ad Lib) Medium Dance

Disc 4

1. I've Got A Crush On You

2. It Had To Be You

3. You're A Weaver Of Dreams

4. This Love Of Mine

5. Misty

6. Invitation

7. The Nearness Of You

9. Imagination

12. Round Midnight

13. Someone To Watch Over Me

15. Reaching For The Moon

16. You Don't Know Me

17. Where Are You

18. There's No You

19. Memories Of You

x

Track List: Balladeers

1. When It's Sleepy Time Down South

2. This Will Make You Laugh

3. I Didn't Sleep A Wink Last Night

4. After The Lights Go Down Low

5. Something's Gotta Give

7. Lush Life

8. Unchained Melody

9. Sweet Lorraine

10. Hey There

11. Sent For You Yesterday

12. In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning

Comments

Report as inappropriate
juanpoet1939
I was Telling her About You. I love this one.
Report as inappropriate
Unchaned Melody
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jgarnett8
Don't forget After the lights go down low
Report as inappropriate
Back in the 50s Al Hibbler had a song out called CRAZY LITTLE PALACE that's my home. I would love to hear this song again, but no one seems to remember it. HELP
Report as inappropriate
dknykurt
al hibler with roland kirk a meeting of our times.master p i e c e of modern interpritati o n of american songbook.the new duke
Report as inappropriate
kelllargo
AL HIBBLER DAY BREAK
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kelllargo
Al HIBBLER DAY BREAK

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