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Thu, 02.15.1923

Deborah Chessler, Lyricist born.

Deborah Chessler

*The birth of Deborah Chessler Is celebrated on this date in 1923.  She was a white Jewish-American songwriter.

Chessler grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. She dropped out of high school at 17 to get married. As a lyricist, her song 'It's Too Soon to Know' was number one on the American rhythm and blues charts in November 1948 and is considered by some to be the first rock and roll song. She began to manage the Vibra-names, a doo-wop group that would become the Orioles. She booked them on Arthur Godfrey's Talent Scouts TV show, where they came in third but were a popular success.

"It's Too Soon to Know," their first record, a single called, had been previously recorded by Savannah Churchill. The group's version of the song, which came out in June 1948, was considered one of the first rhythm and blues songs and was said to have "ushered in the doo-wop era." Chessler pitched her songs to well-known musicians by singing them aloud, as she didn't read or write music or play piano. She had songwriting credits on recordings every decade since. Some of her first sales were to Desi Arnaz and Lionel Hampton.

Her relationship with the band was notable because she was a young Jewish woman managing a black vocal group during Jim Crow when the entertainment industry was rigidly segregated. She divorced her first husband in the 1950s. The group recorded other Chessler songs, including "Tell Me So," "I Need You Baby," and "Forgive and Forget." Chessler left the group in 1954 to spend less time on the road. And saw the group again at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony 1995.

Her time with the band became a musical, Soul Harmony: The Story of Deborah Chessler, Sonny Til & the Orioles. She later married Paul Reingold and moved to Florida. They had one daughter, Wendy. Deborah Chessler died on October 10, 2012.

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