It's the Girl(s)!
The title of this blog post has a bit of a double meaning. For one thing, "It's the Girl" happens to be the name of a new tune we're learning. We figured it was high time we added another Boswell Sisters transcription to our book, so we've been shedding this very fun song and look forward to debuting it soon! (Keep an eye on our calendar for upcoming shows...we may be headed to a jazz festival near you!!)
For another thing, it's finally spring and we ushered in the season at Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola on March 21 (blizzard notwithstanding) with a show dedicated to girl groups throughout the years. We had a lot of fun learning more about the groups that have inspired us on our own adventures in #girlongirlharmony, and we thought it would be fun to tip our collective hats to these ladies of song here on our blog.
After all, as the song goes: "It isn't the songbirds, the song that they sing/It isn't the sunshine that makes you like spring/So what is this magic that makes love the thing?/It's the girl!" Or, in this case, it's the girls! Happy spring!
The McGuire Sisters
With six gold records to their credit during the 1950s and 60s, the McGuire Sisters were prolific recording and performing artists. They were inspired by the musical and entertainment stylings of the Andrews Sisters and performed for five, count 'em, five U.S. presidents and Queen Elizabeth II. Oh, and Phyllis McGuire's love life really made our jaws drop: she had a long-standing relationship with mobster Sam Giancana that was rumored to have blacklisted the group.
Duchess connection: "I'll Be Seeing You," which they, like us, recorded with the original verse!
The Lennon Sisters
The four Lennon Sisters hailed from a large family (eleven! kids!) and appeared regularly on the Lawrence Welk show during the 1950s and 60s. Tragedy struck their family in 1969 when their father was murdered by a deranged fan, but the sisters persevered and continue to perform today. In fact, in 2001 they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. Who knows? Maybe someday we'll get to join voices with these vocal legends!
Duchess connection: "Stars Fell on Alabama," which they performed on the Lawrence Welk Show and which we recorded on "Laughing at Life!"
You wouldn't necessarily think of Sheboygan, Wisconsin as a harmony hotbed, but the Chordettes were a hugely popular all-girl quartet from the land of bratwurst, cheese, and beer (some of Duchess's favorite things...coincidence? We think not!). They first got together in 1946, but their biggest hits came in the mid-1950s when they recorded "Mr. Sandman" and a confectionary tune that we covered on our very first album.
Duchess connection: "Lollipop," which we recorded on our self-titled debut album.
The Clark Sisters, a.k.a. The Sentimentalists
Tommy Dorsey hired the Clark Sisters on the spot in 1945 after they auditioned for him in his midtown apartment. He re-christened them "The Sentimentalists," a name he owned outright, which meant the Clark Sisters couldn't record under their own name. The sisters quickly became beloved by members of Dorsey's band, including Nelson Riddle, Sy Oliver, and Buddy DeFranco, all of whom wrote arrangements for the girls to sing. We have a special personal connection to the Clark Sisters: when we toured in Montana, nonagenarian Ann Clark Terry, an original member of this wonderful group, came out to hear us. We loved meeting her.
Duchess connection: "On the Sunny Side of the Street," which we recorded for our album "Laughing at Life."
The Andrews Sisters
We've borrowed a lot of songs from this iconic vocal trio. Laverne, Maxine, and Patty Andrews were the sound of WWII, and we've had a ball getting to know them through their vast repertoire. We've added kazoos to our version of their wartime swinger "Three Little Sisters" and dared to get a little bit bawdy on "Strip Polka." But it was last summer that we reached Andrews Sisters nirvana when we stood in for (a recording of) the Andrews Sisters and performed "Company B" with the Paul Taylor Dance Company at Lincoln Center Out of Doors.
Duchess connection: the aforementioned "Three Little Sisters," "Strip Polka,"...it's a long & very fun list!
The Boswell Sisters
It's no secret that New Orleans' own Vet, Martha, and Connie Boswell are our greatest inspirations. Their recording career was fairly short, all things considered--they made their first recordings in the early 1930s and had broken up by 1936--but their freewheeling, unpredictable arrangements and quirky repertoire still sound fresh and fun in the 21st century. Some of our earliest performances were in New Orleans, celebrating the Boswell Sisters at a festival helmed by none other than Kyla Titus, granddaughter of Vet Boswell, who's since become a beloved Duchess Honey Bun. Yesterday, today, and forever, the Boswells set the standard for close harmony singing, and we are endlessly proud to help carry their tradition into the 21st century.
Duchess connection: We recorded "Heebie Jeebies" and "Everybody Loves My Baby," and we're in the process of learning "It's the Girl."