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Mildred Bailey

An early jazz singer with a sweet voice, Mildred Bailey balanced a good deal of popular success with a hot jazz-slanted career that saw her billed as Mrs. Swing (her husband, Red Norvo, was Mr. Swing). Born Mildred Rinker in Washington state in 1907, Bailey began performing at an early age, playing piano and singing in movie theaters during the early '20s. By 1925, she was the headlining act at a club in Hollywood, doing a mixture of pop, early jazz tunes, and vaudeville standards. Influenced by Ethel Waters, Bessie Smith, and Connie Boswell, she developed a soft, swinging delivery that pleased all kinds of nightclub audiences in the area. After sending a demonstration disc in to Paul Whiteman in 1929, she gained a spot with one of the most popular dance orchestras of the day.

The added exposure with Whiteman soon gave Bailey her own radio program. She had already debuted on a recording date with guitarist Eddie Lang in 1929, but in 1932 she gained fame by recording what became her signature song, "Rockin' Chair" -- written especially for her by Hoagie Carmichael -- with a Whiteman small group. While recording for Vocalion during the 1930s, Bailey often utilized her husband, xylophonist/vibraphonist Red Norvo. She also appeared on his recordings of the late '30s, and the arrangements of Eddie Sauter proved a perfect accompaniment to her vocals.

Though she and Norvo later divorced, Bailey continued to perform and record during the 1940s. She appeared on Benny Goodman's Camel Caravan radio program, and gained her own series again during the mid-'40s. Hampered by health problems during the late '40s, she spent time in the hospital suffering from diabetes and died of a heart attack in 1951. ~ John Bush
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Rockin' Chair Lady (2 Disc)

Disc 1

1. Rockin' Chair

2. What Kind O' Man Is You?

3. When It's Sleepy Time Down South

4. Georgia On My Mind

5. Harlem Lullaby

6. Lazy Bones

7. Heat Wave

8. Junk Man

9. Ol' Pappy

10. Someday, Sweetheart

11. Willow Tree

12. Honeysuckle Rose

13. Squeeze Me

14. Downhearted Blues

15. A Porter's Love Song To A Chambermaid

16. More Than You Know

17. Smoke Dreams

18. I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm

19. Trust In Me

20. Where Are You?

21. Never In A Million Years

22. There's A Lull In My Life

23. The Moon Got In My Eyes

24. It's The Natural Thing To Do

Disc 2

2. Thanks For The Memory

3. Lover, Come Back To Me

4. Weekend Of A Private Secretary

5. Please Be Kind

6. Don't Be That Way

7. Says My Heart

8. I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart

9. My Melancholy Baby

10. The Lonesome Road

11. So Help Me If I Don't Love You

12. Small Fry

13. My Reverie

14. Old Folks

15. Have You Forgotten So Soon?

16. St. Louis Blues

17. Begin The Beguine

18. 'Tain't What You Do, It's The Way That Cha Do It

19. Gulf Coast Blues

20. Prisoner Of Love

21. Darn That Dream

22. Peace, Brother!

23. Don't Take Your Love From Me

24. Me And The Blues

25. At Sundown

26. All Of Me

x

Track List: Mrs. Swing (Box Set)

Disc 1

1. What Kind Of Man Is You?

2. Is That Religion?

3. Harlem Lullaby

4. Lazy Bones

5. But I Can't Make A Man

6. Doin' The Uptown Lowdown

7. Heat Wave

8. Junk Man

9. Ol' Pappy

10. Emaline

11. I'd Love To Take Orders From You

12. I'd Rather Listen To Your Eyes

13. Someday Sweetheart

14. When Day Is Done

15. Willow Tree

16. Honeysuckle Rose

17. Squeeze Me

18. Down Hearted Blues

19. A Porter's Love Song To A Chambermaid

20. Picture Me Without You

21. Now That Summer Is Gone

22. For Sentimental Reasons

23. It's Love I'm After

24. 'long About Midnight

Disc 2

1. More Than You Know

2. A Thousand Dreams Of You

3. Smoke Dreams

4. Slumming On Park Avenue

5. I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm

6. My Last Affair

7. Trust In Me

8. Where Are You

9. You're Laughing At Me

10. Never In A Million Years

11. There's A Lull In My Life

12. Rockin' Chair

13. If You Should Ever Leave

14. The Moon Got In My Eyes

15. Heaven Help This Heart Of Mine

16. It's The Natural Thing To Do

17. Posin'

18. Bob White

19. I See Your Face Before Me

20. Thanks For The Memory

21. Lover Come Back To Me

22. Always And Always

23. I Was Doing Alright

24. It's Wonderful

25. Our Love Is Here To Stay

Disc 3

1. The Weekend Of A Private Secretary

2. Please Be Kind

3. Bewildered

4. I Can't Face The Music

5. Don't Be That Way

6. At Your Beck And Call

7. Says My Heart

8. I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart

9. Rock It For Me

10. If You Were In My Place

12. You Leave Me Breathless

13. Washboard Blues

14. My Melancholy Baby

15. So Help Me

16. Small Fry

17. As Long As You Live, You'll Be Dead If You Die

18. Put Your Heart In A Song

19. The Sunny Side Of Things

20. Garden Of The Moon

21. Love Is Where You Find It

22. I Used To Be Colour Blind

23. This Is Madness

24. My Reverie

25. What Have You Got That Gets Me?

26. Old Folks

Disc 4

1. Have You Forgotten So Soon?

2. They Say

3. Blame It On My Last Affair

4. St. Louis Blues

5. Begin The Beguine

6. Cuckoo In The Clock

7. There'll Never Be Another You

8. 'tain't What You Do

9. There'll Be Some Changes Made

10. Gulf Coast Blues

11. Prisoner Of Love

12. The Lamp Is Low

13. Moon Love

14. Ghost Of A Chance

15. You're The Moment In My Life

16. I Thought About You

17. Bluebirds In The Moonlight

18. Darn That Dream

19. Peace, Brother!

20. All The Things You Are

21. Wham (Re-Bop-Boom-Bam)

22. Give Me Time

23. Don't Take Your Love From Me

24. Arthur Murray Taught Me Dancing In A Hurry

25. I'll Be Around

x

Track List: The Chronological 1939-1940

1. The Little Man Who Wasn't There

2. A Ghost Of A Chance

3. You're The Moment In My Life

4. You And Your Love

5. Don't Dally With The Devil

6. Ain't That Good News?

8. Blue Rain

9. I've Gone Off The Deep End

10. I Shoulda Stood In Bed

11. Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen

12. Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

13. All The Things You Are

14. Hold On

15. Wham

16. Little High Chairman

17. Easy To Love

18. Give Me Time

19. They Can't Take That Away From Me

20. A Bee Gezindt

21. After All I've Been To You

22. Don't Take Your Love From Me

23. With You On My Mind

24. St. Louis Blues

x

Track List: Smoke Dreams

1. When Day Is Done

2. A Porter's Love Song To A Chambermaid

3. Picture Me Without You

4. It All Begins And Ends With You

5. It Can Happen To You

7. It's Love I'm After

8. Peter Piper

9. A Thousand Dreams Of You

10. Slumming On Park Avenue

12. Smoke Dreams

13. Everyone's Wrong But Me

14. Posin'

15. The Morning After

16. Bob White

17. Always And Always

18. Don't Be That Way

19. I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart

21. I Go For That

22. I Cried For You

23. You're The Moment In My Life

x

Track List: All Of Me

1. All That Glitters Is Not Gold

2. In Love In Vain

3. It's A Woman's Prerogative

4. Penthouse Serenade

5. I'll Close My Eyes

6. Me And The Blues

7. At Sundown

8. Lover Come Back To Me

9. All Of Me

10. Almost Like Being In Love

11. Heather On The Hill

12. Gone On That Guy

13. You Started Something

14. Born To Be Blue

15. Can't We Be Friends

16. Don't Worry 'bout Strangers

17. Rockin' Chair

18. Sunday, Monday Or Always

19. Scrap Your Fat

20. More Than You Know

21. Someday, Sweetheart

22. Hold On

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Wow she is very good
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One of a kind.... new to me, however, she is super......5 stars
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Wow...what a career! Glad to discover her.
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I'm not from the era, be that as it may, LOVELY.
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Her voice is "Beautiful"! - For some reason every artist thinks they are unique!- True in a way!-But this World has been here a long time!!!! Because we are made as individuals- S h e ! To me! Is present day!- Jill Scott!
Report as inappropriate
I love Mildred, and I think that it is important to note that she was the first woman to sing in front of Big Band, AND she was Native American woman from my tribe the Couer d'alenes which was pretty unheard of at the time. If you think this awesome and groundbreaki n g woman should be part of the Jazz Hall of Fame sign this petition: http://www.w h e r e i s m i l d r e d . c o m /
Report as inappropriate
Point is: she was a highly talented singer who died prematurely with health conditions assuredly caused by what she consumed. Period.
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k.pogwizd
This is real music when dingers hsd a voice
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Love it!
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what a lovely voice!!! i love jazz and pandora has helped me find some great ones
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Until Pandora I had never heard of Mildred Bailey. Thanks again, Pandora, for once again introducing me to an amazing artist that our culture had not done until you came along. This is why you could & should be much more than you are. Keep on growing & become what you were meant to be.
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James Vinson Carmichael, you have me very intrigued about the Mary Lou Williams collaboratio n . I will look for the disc set. Thanks!
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Sweet.
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i'm just getting to know her i need to get all of her records
Report as inappropriate
I first heard her about '62 when Columbia came out with the three disc set. "When Day is Done" is still the hottest thing around, and I love her sides with Teddy Wilson and also the Oxford Grays. She and Mary Lou Williams had real musical rapport.
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One of my Dad's favorite singers; I never really appreciated her until I was older...as pure a voice as there is.
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sybillalucia
I first heard her around 1947, when I was a young teen. I thought she was wonderful. I especially love her recording of "Cry, cry, cry".
Report as inappropriate
mikesattic
Actually, I think she is cute... I have a crush on her... Kinda like my crush on Judy Garland... It is ok to have a crush on a dead person rite?
Report as inappropriate
balerick42
Anyone focusing on a singer's weight has to be from the MTV generation. Mildred was a good Jazz singer. MTV ruined music when it put the emphasis on looks. I seriously doubt Skankney or Lady Blah Blah would make it on 1920's and 1930's radio. Now I do have to give some on my point due to the popularity of some 1*930's and 40's blonde and beautiful Big Band singers, but at least they could carry a tune and didn't need to rely on a good sound engineer to produce electronicly enhanced voices.
Report as inappropriate
Maybe the reference to weight is appropriate - there is a link between weight and diabetes. However, that being said, there is no relationship between weight and talent, and Ms. Bailey made the most out of hers.
Report as inappropriate
ealexm
I like the review and the singer. Noticed NO derogatory weight related comments. The picture is the picture and the song is the song.
Report as inappropriate
Let's hope you don't give Ann Wilson from Heart the same treatment!
Report as inappropriate
I agree with emchypoet & daffodil. Focusing on the singer's weight is bad reviewing. What's your point here?
Report as inappropriate
Mildred Bailey is one of my favorite vocalists - but I find the comparison between her voice and her physique insulting and offensive. I wanted to share this bio via facebook to promote both Pandora and Bailey - but now I'll definately look elsewhere for a musical bio to promote. I strongly suggest a rewrite pandora folks - you're better than this.
Report as inappropriate
daffodil
Surely there is no connection between an artist's weight and her singing voice! How rude!
Report as inappropriate
magruver
I love her voice, she is smooth.... wonderful,
Report as inappropriate
she's always had the right stuff...so very under appreciated. . . w i s h she could be re-packaged and put back in the public eye...this is a singer who makes you feel good!

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