Tag Archives: Music et al

Jazz Vocalist Mildred Bailey

Jazz Vocalist Mildred Bailey

Remembering, recognizing, and appreciating
February 27, 1903 – December 12, 1951

Jazz Vocalist Mildred Bailey

Given our culture’s propensity to caricature Native Americans as noble savages stuck in a stone age, the notion that they have had a significant contribution to popular music is surprising.

It should not be so.

Jazz Vocalist Mildred Bailey

Background

Jazz Vocalist Mildred Bailey

Mildred Bailey’s mother was a Coeur d’Alene Native American and Mildred, born Mildred Rinker, lived her early life on their reservation in Idaho which is about an hour’s drive south of Spokane, Washington.

She had shown an early aptitude for music, playing the family piano throughout her childhood. Around 1913 her family moved to Spokane, but after her mother passed away in 1916, she was sent to live with an aunt in Seattle. As a teenager there she earned money playing in silent-movie houses and demonstrating sheet music for customers at Woolworth’s Department Store.

Jazz Vocalist Mildred Bailey

Los Angeles

She found some singing success there and moved to Hollywood to seek more.

Mildred Bailey (she  kept his name because it sounded more American than the German-Rinker) did find more success there. A white woman singing jazz was unusual. A white woman because she hid the fact that she was also a Native American.

Jazz Vocalist Mildred Bailey

Brother Al and friend Bing

Mildred’s brother Al played piano.  Al met Bing Crosby in Seattle and the two teamed up.  They eventually went to Los Angeles like Al’s sister and they, too, found a bit of luck when New York band-leader, Paul “The King of Jazz” Whiteman — invited them to become part of  Paul Whiteman’s Rhythm Boys.

In 1929, Rinker introduced Mildred to Whitman who hired her. With that job, Mildred Bailey became first national-level orchestra to feature a female vocalist, Bailey cut her debut recording, “What Kind O’ Man Is You,” for Columbia.

It was in 1932 that Bailey found national success. She debuted  the song “Ol’ Rockin’ Chair’s Got Me.” The song became such a big hit that she became known as the “Rockin’ Chair Lady.”

Jazz Vocalist Mildred Bailey

Mildred Baily


A historyling article said that, “Bailey… gained attention by recording tunes with the same top players who backed Billie Holiday’s classic sessions — and plenty of people took notice of her trail-blazing ways when she began fronting an all-black combo, Mildred Bailey and Her Oxford Browns. Bailey also married jazzman, Red Norvo, they became known as “Mr. and Mrs. Swing,” and his combo backed her on a series of fine hits.”

She and Norvo divorced, but career continued successfully.  She performed at top New York nightclubs and had her own CBS radio series in 1944

Jazz Vocalist Mildred Bailey

Still Unknown

To most people,  Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Tony Bennet are household names, but the name Mildred Bailey is not. It is ironic because it was she who influenced their styles.

Bailey suffered from diabetes and she was often forced to put her singing career on hold while she recovered her strength. She died on December 12, 1951 in  Poughkeepsie, NY from a heart attack.

  • In 1989, Bailey was inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame.
  • In 1994, the US Postal Service issued a 29-cent stamp her honor. The stamp incorrectly has her birth year as 1907.
Jazz Vocalist Mildred Bailey
Please follow and like us:
error0

Declan O’Rourke Great Saint Lawrence River

Declan O’Rourke Great Saint Lawrence River

Declan O'Rourke Great Saint Lawrence River

Before the Irish Famine the Irish population numbered approximately 8 million.  According to a BBC article, “Altogether, about a million people in Ireland are reliably estimated to have died of starvation and epidemic disease between 1846 and 1851, and some two million emigrated in a period of a little more than a decade (1845-55).

Declan O’Rourke Great Saint Lawrence River

No escape

Declan O'Rourke Great Saint Lawrence River
National Famine Memorial Cuimhneachán Náisiúnta ar an n Gorta Mór in Murrisk, Connacht, in County Mayo

Two other songs [“Buried Deep” and “Villain Curry Shaw“] on O’Rourke’s Chronicle of the Great Irish Famine album dealt with the fatal horrors even for those who thought they’d escaped the famine by sailing to Canada or  the United States or being sent to Australia or New Zealand.

Trans-Atlantic travel in wooden sailing ships was never safe no matter the person’s accommodations, but for those who could bring so little and then have a crew pack  them into  holds with make-shift bunks, meager fare, minimal sanitary facilities, little or no ventilation,  and indifference on the part of most crew members, the vessel became a coffin ship.

According to a Registered Devil dot com article, “Typically untrustworthy vessels, these ships were purchased literally from salvage yards (where they awaiting dismantling) by unscrupulous owners who had no intention of repairing them. Sailors who agreed to serve on board these floating wrecks typically knew nothing of the dangers until they were well out at sea, vagabonds, and those desperate for work (of which there were plenty) quickly volunteered.

Declan O’Rourke Great Saint Lawrence River

America has closed its doors…

Ships often arrived with disease on board and the United States, purportedly trying to improve passenger conditions aboard cargo ships, but in actuality closing American ports to the Irish, enacted various laws.

It must also be pointed out that on January 31, 1848 the United State also enacted legislation that  exempted vessels employed by the American Colonization Society in transporting black emigrants from the US to the coast of Africa from the provisions of the acts of the twenty-second February and second of March, eighteen hundred and forty-seven, regulating the carriage of passengers in merchant vessels!

Declan O’Rourke Great Saint Lawrence River

Famine and disease

Some shipowners and captains evaded these legislative blockades by bringing their human cargo to Canada.

Given the inhumane conditions aboard, it was not surprising that ships arrived with diseased passengers. At first, Canadian authorities tried to provide quarantined shelter, but overwhelmed by the number of sick, ships were forced to keep their passengers aboard which worsened conditions.

From 1847 to 1848, an estimated 3,000 to 6,000 Irish died while waiting to leave their quarters.

Declan O’Rourke Great Saint Lawrence River

Memorial

Declan O'Rourke Great Saint Lawrence River
Grosse Ile Memorial

In 1909 the Ancient Order of Hibernians in America set up a Celtic cross with inscriptions in Irish, English and French, in memory of those who died during  that time.

And anchored up at Grosse Isle, Canade

Forty vessels line the Saint Lawrence

At the station there for quarantine

The sheer magnitude of suffering

Is beyond the helpless volunteers

Declan O’Rourke Great Saint Lawrence River
Please follow and like us:
error0

Declan O’Rourke Connaught Orphan

Declan O’Rourke Connaught Orphan

Declan O'Rourke Connaught Orphan

We may have hoped that the retaliatory exhilaration of  Johnny Hold the Lantern would end the album on its high note, but O’Rouke returns to the Great Famine’s horror and its helpless young victims.

For the centennial of the Easter Rising in 2016, O’Rourke wrote Children of ’16 about the (at least) 40 children under the age of 16 who died in the Easter Week’s fighting.  Crossfire caught most victims, but British soldiers deliberately shot or bayoneted others. (Independent article)

Declan O’Rourke Connaught Orphan

Orphan offerings

It is no surprise that the Great Famine orphaned so many children. It is also no surprise that even the most insensitive laissair faire proponent would do at least something minimal to relieve their conscience if not the orphans’ suffering.

In the Connaught Orphan, we stride beside a barefoot 7-year-old boy walking his younger sister to the poor house ten miles away. Both starving.

There is room only for one. He leaves her there and walks the 10 miles back.

Declan O’Rourke Connaught Orphan

Strings attached

It is still a common requirement from those who have relief to give that there be a quid pro quo. A demand that the suffering must first be worthy to receive aid.

In the case of the Irish peasants, assistance sometimes  depended on acknowledging the Church of England as the true church. To renounce Catholicism.

In our less religious 21st century world  (at least in terms of church attendance), such a demand might seem an easy one to comply with, but the 19th century Church taught it Catholic believers that a choice meant damnation.

Declan O’Rourke Connaught Orphan

Quakers

Declan O'Rourke Connaught Orphan

Quakers were the one religious group that seemed genuinely interested in assistance without strings attached. They formed the Central Relief Committee (CRC) to help coordinate relief.

William E. Forster, a CRC member, traveled throughout Ireland and send letters describing what he saw. In one letter he wrote, “Poor wretches in the last stage of famine, imploring to be received into the (work) house; women who had six or seven children begging that even two or three might be taken in …. some of these children were worn to skeleton, their features sharpened with hunger, their limbs wasted almost to the bone” (more at Irish Famine site)

Unfortunately, even the most kindhearted actions can result in unforeseen consequences.

In this song, the Quaker wants to provide a bath and clean clothing, but the boy realizes that when his neighbors see him that way they will assume that he has renounced his faith or that he has lied about his neediness.

I’ll surely died of hunger now

If they see me with your nie new clothes

They’ll think I’m telling lies, and that

I have a mammy feeds me so.

What kind of world had the British government helped foster? One that forced a starving child in rags to refuse food and clothing?

Declan O’Rourke Connaught Orphan
Please follow and like us:
error0