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Boswell Sisters History

Boswell Sisters

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Based in: New Orleans, United States.

One of the all-time greatest jazz vocal groups, the Boswell Sisters, Martha, Vet and Connee, began their career in the vaudeville houses of New Orleans. Connee, paralyzed from the waist down by a childhood accident (though her disability was often attributed to polio), always performed sitting down. Gifted musicians as well as singers, the sisters also worked at a local radio station, performing classical and semi-classical instrumentals. (Martha played piano, Vet played violin, banjo and guitar, and Connee played cello, saxophone and guitar.) Their careers took off when the radio station gave them a daily singing program.

The sisters' harmonic vocals, dotted with scatting and numerous tempo and key changes, quickly made them popular in New Orleans and beyond. They recorded several songs during the twenties, but it wasn't until 1930, when they recorded four songs for the Okeh label, that they finally achieved popular recognition. They later signed with Brunswick, and between 1930 and 1936 they were the hottest vocal group in the country. They appeared in several movies and were regulars on Bing Crosby's radio program. Many of their hit recordings were made with the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra. Both Vet and Martha retired from show business in 1936. Connee went on enjoy a mildly-successful solo career.

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