The International Sweethearts Of Rhythm
During the big band era, among the many big bands that were active, were also a handful of all-female bands. The Harlem Harlicans, formed by Lil Armstrong in 1932, Ina Ray Hutton and her Melodears, the Parisian Redheads and others were famous in their time, yet none survived history as the International Sweethearts Of Rhythm. Their story is a complex one, especially as the founding members are now deceased, and no one knows who is right and who¡¦s wrong. One thing is for certain: The band was the first integrated female band, and the most famous female band of their time .
The sweethearts were formed in Piney Woods Country Life School near Jackson, Mississippi in 1937, by the school's principal, Laurence C. Jones, with the idea of creating a band that will tour the country and raise funds for the school. The school, consisting of a thousand boys and girls, many of them orphans, was extremely low-funded, and Jones was constantly in search of different ways to fund the school.
The sweethearts was one such project.
Most girls were already adequate musicians, as they were taught music since a young age, and playing in the school's marching band, but Jones had set a higher ramp for the sweethearts. They were taught the art of playing in a big band, and soon had concert dates in the area, playing high school dances in gymnasiums and dance halls.
The band was no more than a novelty school band in those days. They were taught to play chords, and read stock arrangements. With this limited repertoire they toured the south for almost a year .
As the tours got longer and longer, questions were raised, mostly by the girls themselves, about the value of touring, co...
... middle of paper ...
...he recording is proof enough that the band was swinging, as well as any other band of that time.
,,h Dickerson, James. Just For A Thrill: Lil Armstrong, First Lady of Jazz. Cooper Square Press. 2002
,,h Handy, D. Antoinette. The International Sweethearts Of Rhythm. The Scarecrow Press, INC, 1983. P. 174
,,h McPartland, Marian. ¡§The Untold Story of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.¡¨ Reading Jazz: a gathering of autobiography, reportage, and criticism from 1919 to Now. Ed. Gottlieb, Robert. Random House, 1996. P. 638-651
,,h The Vocal Group Harmony Web Site
,,h The Kit McClure Band Sweethearts Project http://www.redhotrecords.com/sweethearts.html
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