Friday, March 03, 2006

Well, hello. I really don't have time to do this, but this my Boswell Sisters blog. I'm otherwise a normal 37 year old man, but I love the Boswell Sisters. They make me very happy. I don't really listen to other vocal jazz groups, but I love this group.
I've started this blog because I find the web representation of the Boswells rather spotty. A bio here, a blurb there. Some pictures. A lot of commercial CD selling sites with tidbits. There is the Boswell Sisters Museum homepage, but the museum (and the page) seems to be dormant these days. Frankly, I think it's a shame that the Bozzies are so underrepresented on the internet. Aside from my beliefs in their transcendant high quality, they were the most popular vocal group of the 1930s. Shouldn't that count for something?
What I want to do with this blog is collect together some information, some sounds and some images about the Boswells - it's an opportunity to collect everything together in one place, and share it, and maybe even attract some other people to contribute what they have.
There is a Boswells biography in the works by David McCain, but until it drops, I'd like to collect whatever is available.
Let's start with a short bio and a picture.

The iconic Boswells picture. Definitely the one I'm seen most often, and probably the definitive image. Check out the matching spitcurls. Also the matching outfits, but contrasting necklaces. In case you're new to the game, that's Helvetia (Vet) Boswell, Connie (Connee) Boswell, and Martha Boswell left to right.

And a bio from the Vocal Hall of Fame:

Definitely the most talented and arguably the all-around best jazz vocal group of all time, the Boswell Sisters parlayed their New Orleans upbringing into a swinging delivery that featured not only impossibly close harmonies, but countless maneuvers of vocal gymnastics rarely equalled on record. Connee (sometimes Connie), Helvetia (Vet), and Martha Boswell grew up singing together, soaking up Southern gospel and blues through close contact with the black community. They first performed at vaudeville houses around the New Orleans area, and began appearing on local radio by 1925. At first, they played strictly instrumentals, with Connee on cello, saxophone and guitar; Martha on piano; and Vet on violin, banjo, and guitar. The station began featuring them in a vocal setting as well, with Connee taking the lead on many songs (despite a childhood accident that had crippled her and left her in a wheelchair).

Word of their incredible vocal talents led to appearances in Chicago and New York, and the Boswell Sisters began recording in 1930 for Victor. By the following year, they'd moved to Brunswick and reached the Hit Parade with "When I Take My Sugar to Tea," taken from the Marx Brothers' film Monkey Business and featuring the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra in support. The trio continued to work with many of the best jazzmen in the field (including Eddie Lang, Joe Venuti, and Bunny Berigan), and appeared in the 1932 film extravaganza The Big Broadcast with Bing Crosby and Cab Calloway. The Boswell Sisters hit the top of the Hit Parade only once, in 1935, with "The Object of My Affection" from the film Times Square Lady. One year later however, both Martha and Vet retired from the group in favor of married life.

Connee had already made a few solo sides for Brunswick as early as 1932, and she continued her solo career in earnest after the Boswell Sisters parted. She hit number one twice during the late '30s, with the Bing Crosby duets "Bob White (Whatcha Gonna Swing Tonight?)" and "Alexander's Ragtime Band," and continued recording into the '60s. — John Bush


Blogger cyn said...

Yowsah, Brother Daley. Let the Boz temps rouler!

7:00 PM  
Blogger dasteven said...

I discovered the Boswells about 7 yrs ago and there was a six month period when they were all I listened to. "Transcendent" is good word to describe what those 30's era recordings are like. In fact, there are no words to do justice to that music. It is extraordinary.

Having grown up on Sixties rock and roll, I'd say the Boswells give the Beatles are real run for the money.

I am so glad to hear that someone is writing their bio since I too think that so little is known about this amazing group.

1:06 AM  
Blogger clibbityclop said...

I feel like I need to go to a Boswell Sisters support group. I can't get enough - is this normal?

1:48 PM  
Blogger Manifesto4Sunlight said...

I have only recently discovered the Boswell Sisters and I can't even remember how I got to them, but I am now fascinated and hooked. The first thing I heard/watched online was the trio singing 'Crazy People', which is so entertaining! Their expression are so fresh and natural and they seem to be really enjoying themselves. It seems they were hugely important in the history of popular music and it's so refreshing to know how they explored the world of black music back in those times. I now can't stop researching things about them, especially Connee, always smiling so unresentfully from her wheelchair - what an inspiration for people with disabilities. They should be WAY more famous than they are today... but, like many women, they have been somewhat 'hidden from history' and we need to keep shovelling the soil away to rectify that!

4:37 PM  

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