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Fri, 01.13.1905

The Voice of Ellington, Ivie Anderson

Ivie Anderson

On this date we celebrate the birth of Ivie Anderson, She was a Black singer.

Born in Gilroy, CA, Ivie Marie Anderson was orphaned as a child and was subsequently raised in convents. Ivie began to study voice at a young age. From the age of nine to fifteen she sang in her school’s glee club and choral society. Later, she joined Harlem’s Cotton Club as a chorus girl and sang for a time with Earl Hines. In 1931, Duke Ellington hired her as his first featured singer; she was one of the first female singers to be spotlighted with a band.

Her recorded debut with Ellington was the 1932 hit, "It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)." Anderson remained with Ellington longer than any other singer and has the status as his most distinguished vocalist. Extremely beautiful, she was vivacious and sang with a sensitive relaxed rhythm, a smoky tone, near perfect pitch and diction that showed a rare respect for lyrics. Ivie Anderson had a special rapport with her audiences.

She also developed a unique relationship with drummer Sonny Greer; onstage, he would “talk” to her with his drums and she would sing back her answer. Her foremost recordings were "Stormy Weather," "I’m Satisfied," "Raising the Rent," all in 1933, "I Got It Bad And That Ain’t Good," in 1941, and many more.  Ivie Anderson retired from performing because of serious asthma problems and died in Los Angeles on September 28, 1949.

A Century of Jazz by Roy Carr
Da Capo Press, New York
Copyright 1997
ISBN 0-306-80778-5

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