ARTISTS & PERFORMERS

Artist Photo Artist Bio
McKinney's Cotton Pickers were an African American jazz band, founded in Detroit, Illinois, United States, in 1926 by William McKinney, who expanded his Synco Septet to ten pieces. Between 1927 and 1931, they were one of the most popular African-American bands. Many of their records for Victor were bestsellers. In 1927, Fletcher Henderson's arranger and saxophone player Don Redman was invited to become the Cotton Pickers' musical director, and he assembled a band which rivalled Henderson's and Duke Ellington's. Aiding Redman with arrangements a... Continue reading
Mercer Ellington (March 11, 1919 – February 8, 1996) was an American jazz trumpeter, composer, and arranger. Mercer was born in Washington, DC, the son of the composer, pianist, and bandleader Duke Ellington. He attended New College for the Education of Teachers at Columbia University, New York University and The Juilliard School. In 1939, 1946–1949, and 1959 he led his own bands, many of whose members went on to play with his father, or to achieve independent fame. During the 1940s in particular he wrote pieces that became standards, inclu... Continue reading
Mildred Bailey (February 27, 1907 – December 12, 1951) was a popular and influential American jazz singer during the 1930s, known as "The Queen of Swing", "The Rockin' Chair Lady" and "Mrs. Swing". Some of her best-known hits are "It's So Peaceful in the Country", "Trust in Me", "Where Are You?", "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart", "Small Fry", "Please Be Kind", "Darn That Dream", "Rockin' Chair", "Blame It on My Last Affair", and "Says My Heart".Her brothers were the vocalist and composer Al Rinker and the lyricist Charles Rinker. In 1925 she... Continue reading
Mills Blue Rhythm Band was an American big band of the 1930s. The band was formed in Harlem in 1930. It started life as the Coconut Grove Orchestra, changing to Mills Blue Rhythm Band when Irving Mills became its manager in 1931. At various times the same group was known as the "Blue Rhythm Band", "Blue Ribbon Band", "Blue Rhythm Boys", "The Blue Racketeers", "Earl Jackson's Musical Champions", "Earl Jackson and his Orchestra", "Duke Wilson and his Ten Blackberries", "King Carter's Royal Orchestra", "Mills Music Masters", "Harlem Hot Shots" and... Continue reading
Mills Brothers were an African-American jazz and pop vocal quartet of the 20th century who made more than 2,000 recordings that combined sold more than 50 million copies, and garnered at least three dozen gold records. The Mills Brothers were inducted into The Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998. They entertained on the Midwest theater circuit, at house parties, tent shows, music halls and supper clubs throughout the area and became well known for their close harmonies, mastery of scat singing, and their ability to imitate musical instruments with... Continue reading
The Modernaires is an American vocal group, best known for performing in the 1940’s alongside Glenn Miller. The Modernaires began in 1934 as "Don Juan, Two and Three," a trio of schoolmates from Lafayette High School in Buffalo, New York. The members, Hal Dickinson, Chuck Goldstein, and Bill Conway, had their first engagement at Buffalo's suburban Glen Falls Casino, with the Ted Fio Rito Orchestra’. They then joined the Ozzie Nelson Band, and became known as "The Three Wizards of Ozzie." They next recruited Ralph Brewster to make a quartet ... Continue reading
Orrin Tucker (17 February 1911 – 9 April 2011) was an American bandleader born in St. Louis, Missouri, whose theme song was "Drifting and Dreaming". His biggest hit was "Oh Johnny, Oh Johnny, Oh!" (1939), sung by vocalist "Wee" Bonnie Baker. He founded his first band while a college student at North Central College near Chicago, Illinois. Orrin Tucker's big band, which he formed in 1933, specialized in a more relaxed style of swing, which was somewhat less complex than the music of Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman and other famous contemporary b... Continue reading
Ozzie Nelson (March 20, 1906 – June 3, 1975) was an American band leader, actor, director, and producer. He originated and starred in The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, a radio and long-running television series with his wife Harriet and two sons David and Ricky Nelson. Nelson started his entertainment career as a band leader. He formed and led the Ozzie Nelson Band.  Nelson's records were consistently popular and in 1934 Nelson enjoyed success with his hit song, "Over Somebody Else's Shoulder" which he introduced. Nelson was their primary... Continue reading
Paul Whiteman (March 28, 1890 – December 29, 1967) was an American bandleader, composer, orchestral director and violinist. Leader of one of the most popular dance bands in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s, Whiteman produced recordings that were immensely successful, and press notices often referred to him as the "King of Jazz". Using a large ensemble and exploring many styles of music, Whiteman is perhaps best known for his blending of symphonic music and jazz, as typified by his 1924 commissioning and debut of George Gershwin's ... Continue reading
Pearl Bailey (March 29, 1918 – August 17, 1990) was an American actress and singer. She made her stage-singing debut when she was 15 years old. Her brother Bill Bailey was beginning his own career as a tap dancer, and suggested she enter an amateur contest at the Pearl Theatre in Philadelphia. Bailey won and was offered $35 a week to perform there for two weeks. She later won a similar competition at Harlem's famous Apollo Theater and decided to pursue a career in entertainment. After appearing in vaudeville she made her Broadway debut in St.... Continue reading