FOREWORD by Connie Haines
Life is one big adventure. As a teenager, I got my start during the Big Band Era being discovered by Harry James. My name was Yvonne Marie Antoinette Ja Mais. Considering this, Harry said, “ What are we going to do with that on a marquee'? There sure would be no room for me. You look like a 'Connie'--- Connie Haines that blends with James.” Well that was my beginning, a lot like the start of many a youngster who found themselves singing in what would become The Big Band Era. For example, Doris Day was Doris Kappelhoff. Lynn Roberts was Leonore Raisig, Helen Forrest was Helen Fogel and Dolly Dawn was Teresa Stabile.
I was lucky. I found myself singing with a young fellow named Frank Sinatra and backed up by Jo Stafford and the Pied Pipers in an organization led by the wonderful Tommy Dorsey where we produced all those wonderful recordings that you have in your collections. The songs we sang then are the same I sing at concerts today. That musical era featured a lions share of great musicians, talented arrangers, and those wonderful men and ladies who sang with those bands in their own unique style. It surely can never be duplicated again. We know that now.
Today, the “estate bands” fill the ever-demanding market even though they are led by different leaders, usually alumni of the earlier versions of those bands. Some call them “ghost bands.” They still tour the country, packing them in at every Performing Arts Center and College auditorium and at places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City. What a heritage! The boy and girl singers ( that's what they called us in those days) are known today simply as Song Stars.
My 1996 California tour with Larry Elgart's band was sold out in packed auditoriums everywhere we traveled. We were thrilled and amazed. The same story exists for Rosemary Clooney, maybe in Atlantic City or New York City at a club here or there. It also applies to Big Band singers Kay Starr, Anita O'Day, Fran Warren, Peggy Lee, Helen Forrest, Bea Wain, The King Sisters, Kitty Kallen, Martha Tilton and Doris Day when they do and if they do. It's amazing that after all these many years the public still adores their song singing heroes of past generations. We must have been pretty good. That, of course, goes for all the boys too. We'll hear about them in a forthcoming subsequent book.
We have recently lost many of our lady Song Stars, but they will never be forgotten. Among them, Ella Fitzgerald who sang with Chick Webb, Helen O'Connell of Jimmy Dorsey's band, Paula Kelly and Marion Hutton of Glenn Miller's group, June Christie who sang with Stan Kenton, and Carmen McCrae.
As one of those Song Stars, I have been privileged to entertain American audiences from one end of the United States to the other throughout the years. For me and the others it was an exciting and rewarding experience as we traversed from one city to another passing one another like ships in the night to bring what I call True American Music to our fans. What an honor it has been to sing for you all my life.
Now, read on. This book will tell you the story, however short, of each of these Song Stars, including my own. My friend Richard Grudens has brought it all back to life in this memorable book and I have written this opening page to get you started.
See you later, I'm on my way to sing a Big Band concert now.
Connie Haines, Clearwater Beach, Florida
February 5, 1997
BACK COVER TEXT:
The Best Account of the Great Lady Vocallists of the Big Band Era Published in Over 25 Years
In this companion to the first book in the series, The Best Damn Trumpet Player, author Richard Grudens explores the world of the Ladies Who Sang with the Bands through heartwarming interviews or vignettes with living legen artists Helen Forrest, Doris Day, Rosemary Clooney, Kitty Kallen, Jo Stafford, Peggy Lee, Teresa Brewer, Connie Haines, Lena Horne, Frances Langford, Patti Page, Dolly Dawn, The Lennon Sisters, and the last of the Big Band singers, Lynn Roberts.
This wonderful book pays tribute to the lives of early song innovators Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Mildred Bailey, Ethel Waters, and the First Lady of Song, Ella Fitzgerals. It, also, tells a different story about special Song Star Josephine Baker.
Special chapters include legenday Frankie Laine's personal tribute to many Big Band singers he has known; bandleader Warren Covington's historical account of The Pied Pipers singing group who once backed Frank Sinatra and Connie Haines; and world-famous disc jockey Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins' recollection of his legendary fables of the Purple Grotto.
There are special segments honoring all of the known Big Band Song Stars, and even a list of those not so well-known.
Richard Grudens provides a special insight into the lives of the Song Stars and provides over 60 exceptional photos to enrich your reading pleasure.
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