Ida Cox, Lovie Austin - Graveyard Dream Blues (1923)
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Uploaded on Oct 25, 2008
Ida Cox (25 February 1896 - 10 November 1967) was an African American singer and vaudeville performer, best known for her blues performances and recordings.
Cox was born in February, 1896 as Ida Prather in Toccoa, Habersham County, Georgia (Toccoa was in Habersham County, not yet Stephens County at the time), the daughter of Lamax and Susie (Knight) Prather, and grew up in Cedartown, Georgia, singing in the local African Methodist Church choir. She left home to tour with traveling minstrel shows, often appearing in blackface into the 1910s; she married fellow minstrel performer Adler Cox.
By 1920, she was appearing as a headline act at the 81 Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia; another headliner at that time was Jelly Roll Morton.
After the success of Mamie Smith's pioneering 1920 recording of "Crazy Blues", record labels realized there was a demand for recordings of race music. The classic female blues era had begun, and would extend through the 1920s. From 1923 through to 1929, Cox made numerous recordings for Paramount Records, and headlined touring companies, sometimes billed as the "Sepia Mae West", continuing into the 1930s. During the 1920s, she also managed Ida Cox and Her Raisin' Cain Company, her own vaudeville troupe.
Early in the 1930 "Baby Earl Palmer" broke into big time show business as a tap dancer in Cox's Darktown Scandals Review.
In 1939 she appeared at Café Society Downtown, in New York's Greenwich Village, and participated in the historic Carnegie Hall concert, From Spirituals to Swing. That year, she also resumed her recording career with a series of sessions for Vocalion Records and, in 1940, Okeh Records, with groups that at various times included guitarist Charlie Christian, trumpeters Hot Lips Page and Henry "Red" Allen, trombonist J. C. Higginbotham, and Lionel Hampton.
She had spent several years in retirement by 1960, when record producer Chris Albertson persuaded her to make one final recording, an album for Riverside. Her accompanying group comprised Roy Eldridge, Coleman Hawkins, pianist Sammy Price, bassist Milt Hinton, and drummer Jo Jones. Ms. Cox referred to the album as her "final statement," and, indeed, it was. She returned to live with her daughter in Knoxville, Tennessee, where she died in 1967.
Lovie Austin (September 19, 1887 July 10, 1972) was an American popular Chicago bandleader, session musician, composer, and arranger during the 1920s classic blues era. She and Lil Hardin Armstrong are often ranked as two of the best female jazz blues piano players of the period. Mary Lou Williams cites Lovie Austin as her greatest influence.
Born Cora Calhoun in Chattanooga, Tennessee, she studied music theory at Roger Williams University and Knoxville College in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1923, Lovie Austin decided to make Chicago her home, and she lived and worked there for the rest of her life. A fancy dresser and a well-liked person, she was often seen racing around town in her Stutz Bearcat with leopard skin upholstery, dressed to the teeth. Her early career was in vaudeville where she played piano and performed in variety acts. Accompanying blues singers was Lovie's specialty, and can be heard on recordings by Ma Rainey ("Moonshine Blues), Ida Cox ("Wild Women Don't Have The Blues"), Ethel Waters ("Craving Blues"), and Alberta Hunter ("Sad 'n' Lonely Blues"). She led her own band, the Blues Serenaders, which usually included trumpeters Tommy Ladnier, Bob Shoffner, Natty Dominique, or Shirley Clay on cornet, trombonist Kid Ory or Albert Wynn on trombone, and Jimmy O'Bryant or Johnny Dodds on clarinet, along with banjo and occasional drums. Austin would work with many of the other top jazz musicians of the 1920s, namely Louis Armstrong. Austin's skills as songwriter can be heard in the classic "Down Hearted Blues," a tune she co-wrote with Alberta Hunter. Singer Bessie Smith turned the song into a hit in 1923. Austin was also a session musician for Paramount Records.
When the classic blues craze began to wither in the early 1930s, Austin settled into the position of musical director for the Monogram Theater, at 3453 South State Street in Chicago where all the T.O.B.A. acts played. She worked there for 20 years. After World War II she became a pianist at Jimmy Payne's Dancing School at Penthouse Studios, and performed and recorded occasionally.
In 1961 she recorded Alberta Hunter with Lovie Austin's Blues Serenaders, as part of Riverside's Living Legends series. Austin's songs included "Sweet Georgia Brown," "C-Jam Blues," and "Gallon Stomp." She died on July 10, 1972 in Chicago.
Ida Cox (vocal) & Lovie Austin (piano) - Graveyard Dream Blues (1923)
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