Black News and News Makers in History: Ivie Anderson

African American news from Pasadena - Black News and News Makers in History recognizes Ivie Anderson this week in Black history.Ivie Marie Anderson was born on January 13, 1905 in Gilroy, California. Orphaned as a child, she was raised in convents. While at St. Mary's convent, she began to study voice. From the ages of nine to fifteen she sang in her school's glee club and choral society. Later, she spent two years studying with Sara Ritt in Washington, D.C.

Returning home, she found work with Curtis Mosby, Paul Howard, Sonny Clay, and briefly with Anson Weeks at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in Los Angeles. She also found work in vaudeville, touring the country as a dancer and vocalist in the Fanchon and Marco revue, starring Mamie Smith, and with the Shuffle Along revue. She was featured vocalist at the Culver City Cotton Club before leaving to tour Australia in 1928 with Sonny Clay. Returning after five months down under she organized her own show and toured the U.S. In 1930 she found work with Earl Hines and his orchestra.

In 1931, Duke Ellington hired her as his first featured singer; she was one of the first female singers to be spot-lighted with a band. Her recorded debut with Ellington was the 1932 hit, "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)". She gave voice to some of the band's most memorable tunes of the era, ''I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good,'' ''It Don't Mean a Thing,'' ''Stormy Weather,'' and ''Rose of the Rio Grande.'' She was also featured in the 1939 Marx Brothers' film A Day at the Races, singing ''All God's Chillun' Got Rhythm.''

In 1933, she appeared in the movie short "Bundle of Blues" playing herself and singing "Stormy Weather." She also appeared as a singer in the Marx Brothers movie "A Day at the Races" (1937) and the same year in "Hit Parade of 1937" (again playing herself, Ivy Anderson).

Anderson remained with Ellington for eleven years - longer than any other singer and has the status as his most distinguished vocalist. Extremely beautiful, she was vivacious and sang with a sensitive relaxed rhythm, a smoky tone, near perfect pitch and diction that showed a rare respect for lyrics.

Ivie Anderson had a special rapport with her audiences. She also developed a unique relationship with drummer Sonny Greer; onstage, he would "talk" to her with his drums and she would sing back her answer.

Her foremost recordings were "Stormy Weather", "I'm Satisfied", and "Raising the Rent" (all in 1933); "Cotton" (1935); "Isn't Love the Strangest Thing?" (1936); "Love is Like a Cigarette" (1936); "There's a Lull in My Life" (1937); "All God's Children Got Rhythm" (1937); "If You Were in My Place (What Would You Do?) (1938); "At a Dixie Road Diner" (1940); and "I Got It Bad And That Ain't Good" (1941), and many more.

In 1942, she left the band to open her own Chicken Shack restaurant in Los Angeles. Her retirement was at least in part due to chronic asthma. Though continuing to sing regularly in West Coast nightclubs, her medical condition kept her from recording or touring extensively and ultimately led to her early death. Ivie Anderson passed away in Los Angeles on December 28, 1949 at the age of 45.

Ivie Anderson is considered one of the finest singers of the golden age of jazz. She was a fluent vocalist who impressed many with her blues and scat phrasings.

Compiled from http://www.jazzbiographies.com/Biography.aspx?ID=128 and http://www.parabrisas.com/d_andersoni.php.