#891 (6/3/17 - 6/16/17)

SPOTLIGHT ON SAVANNAH CHURCHILL — PART FOUR

"I Don't Believe In Tomorrow"/"(It's No) Sin"
Savannah Churchill
(And The Four Tunes)
on RCA Victor 20-4280
released in 1951

"Peace Of Mind"
Savannah Churchill
With Ray Charles Singers
on Decca 28899
released in 1953

"Just Whisper"
Savannah Churchill
With Quartet
on Decca 29262
released in 1954


Above: Photo of Savannah Churchill. On back of the photo: Stamped NOV 1951. Sultry blues songstress, SAVANNAH CHURCHILL, queen of the discs, heads the new record star revue on the stage of the Regal Theater the week starting Friday, Nov. 16th, co-starring with piano-man Eddie Haywood, and his trio, and the new king of the clarinet, Buddy De Franco, and his orchestra.


Above: Savannah Churchill in front of her Brooklyn home with her Great Dane, "Cheater." Picture was taken in 1952.




(This article is courtesy of Paul Ressler.)

JET Magazine Article (9/10/53): Savannah Churchill Quits Blues For Gospel Singing

Since New Orleans-born Savannah Churchill first rose to fame in 1947 with her own composition, I Want To Be Loved, she has sold some four million copies of her torchy tunes. Employing a sultry style and suggestive lyrics, the one-time choir singer cashed in on one hit after another. Among them: The Things You Do To Me and Sin, Daddy, Sin.

Last week, however, with the release of two new semi-spirituals on the Decca label, Shake A Hand backed by Shed A Tear, the popular Brooklyn songstress strayed from the ranks of blues singers to try her luck with spiritual songs. Her explanation: 1) she is weary of one-nighter engagements; 2) spirituals are still the most unexploited of all entertainment media; and 3) sales of spiritual recordings indicate a new trend in public taste.

In switching to spirituals, Savannah hopes to cash in on a rich bonanza enjoyed up to now by such established artists as Mahalia Jackson, Rosetta Tharpe, and lately, Clara Ward.

Of her own future, however, Savannah is most enthusiastic. She is building a new repertoire from among favorite gospel tunes, and plans to make records and tour with the Deep River Boys. She says: "I like the hours. Besides concert work with an occasional recording session thrown in, gives me more time to spend at home with my husband. I love to cook and he loves to eat."

********************************************************************************************
Now let's critique this article:
1. "I Want To Be Loved" was composed by William "Pat" Best, the baritone singer in the group that backed her on this record. Although early releases of this song show Savannah as composer, she had no part in writing the song. Pat Best even coached Savannah in how to perform the song on stage. The song was released in 1946, not 1947.
2. The only song that had "suggestive lyrics" was Savannah's first record, "Fat Meat Is Good Meat," released in 1942. None of her other songs comes even close.
3. There was no such song as "Sin, Daddy, Sin." She did have two separate songs, "Daddy Daddy" (1945) and "(It's No) Sin" (1951).
4. "Shed A Tear" is a "torch" song, not a spiritual in any sense of the word. Savannah did have two more spiritual songs on Decca, "Peace Of Mind" and "Just Whisper" (listen to these and "Shed A Tear" elsewhere on this page).
5. Savannah was not a "blues singer" in the true sense of the word. Yes, she was torchy and sultry, but came under the more general description, used at that time, of "race" singer. More appropriately, she was a "popular" singer.
6. She liked touring better than one-nighter engagements? Touring in those days was a series of one-nighter engagements, with no time off between!
7. More likely, upon seeing the success of Faye Adams' hit song "Shake A Hand," Decca wanted some of the action and had Savannah record it. The article should have read "....and lately, Faye Adams."
8. No records were issued by Savannah with The Deep River Boys. Research could not find any mention of a tour featuring this pairing. However, the photo just below shows Savannah collaborating on a song with two of The Deep River Boys.



Above: Savannah Churchill collaborating on a song with (L-R) Harry Douglas and Cam Williams (both are members of The Deep River Boys) and Tom Dilbeck (composer). Photo is circa 1953.



From New York Age dated 11/4/50.

From Standard Speaker (Hazelton, PA) dated 2/4/63.




From Honolulu Advertizer dated 5/5/55.

From Morning Call (Allentown, PA) dated 4/14/62.




Ad for "(It's No) Sin" from January 1951.


EXTRA AUDIO (Windows Media Player):
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

The Billboard Review (9/5/53):

SAVANNAH CHURCHILL — DECCA 28836....
Shake A Hand
(80) Tune now taking off in the r.&b. field via the Faye Adams cutting on Herald receives a sock performance from the thrush on her debut cutting for the label. Tune is a powerful one, and there is a chance for two waxings to make it on this tune. Backing by the Cecil Haynes ork is solid. Watch this one.
Shed A Tear (75) A pretty, pop-styled ballad is sung with feeling by Miss Churchill, over a tender backing by the ork. This side should get as many spins by the pop jocks as the r.&b. platter spinners. It's a lovely job by the chantress.

(NOTE: A ratings range of 70-79 was considered "good" and 80-89 "excellent.")

The Cash Box Review (8/22/53):

SAVANNAH CHURCHILL — DECCA 28836.... Shake A Hand/Shed A Tear
Savannah Churchill goes Rhythm and Blues with a great piece of material, "Shake A Hand," and gives it an emotional and lush vocal treatment that bids fair to give Decca its biggest selling r & b platter in many many moons. (Comparing the Churchill and Faye Adams records of the song), we offer two slightly different versions. The Churchill version is tender and warm and well done, but it differs slightly in that it is more on the rhythm and blues kick with a possible lapover to the pop field. The under plate "Shed A Tear" is the Savannah Churchill of recent years. Her treatment of the slow ballad is more for the pop audience. She's good, as usual, as she languidly sings the tender romantic lyrics.


Above Left is an ad for "Shake A Hand" from August 1953. Above Right is label image for Decca 28836 released in August 1953. This is Savanna's only Decca record that does not have vocal group backing. Compare Savannah's "Shake A Hand" to the Faye Adams version.

Listen to "Shake A Hand" - Savannah Churchill - Decca 28836 - 1953.
Listen to "Shed A Tear" - Savannah Churchill - Decca 28836 - 1953.
BOTH played in sequence.


EXTRA EXTRA AUDIO (Windows Media Player):
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]



Above Left is picture of Savannah Churchill from the Pittsburgh Courier dated 1/9/54. Above Right is label image for Argo 5251 released in 1956.
She is backed by an unnamed vocal group on both sides. This is her only record on the Argo label, a subsidiary of Chess Records.

The Billboard Review (5/12/56):

SAVANNAH CHURCHILL — ARGO 5251....
Let Me Be The First One To Know
(71) This three-beat popish item makes a pleasant side. Miss Churchill's vocal could stand more instrumental production.
They Call Me A Fool (70) Another pop side. Fair.

(NOTE: A ratings range of 70-79 was considered "good.")

Listen to "They Call Me A Fool" - Savannah Churchill (And Vocal Group) - Argo 5251 - 1956.
Listen to "Let Me Be The First One To Know" - Savannah Churchill (And Vocal Group) - Argo 5251 - 1956.
BOTH played in sequence.



Above: Label image of RCA Victor 20-4280 released in September 1951.
Savannah Churchill had five records on RCA Victor (1951-52), all sides with vocal group backing.

Visit "SAVANNAH CHURCHILL DISCOGRAPHY" for a full listing of her recordings.

Billboard, April 2, 1949:
Savannah Churchill Signs With Victor
NEW YORK, March 26—Chirp Savannah Churchill this week signed a term recording contract with the RCA Victor label. She formerly waxed with Manor Records, where she hit a couple of seasons ago with I Want To Be Loved. The thrush is skedded for an early recording date.

New York Age, April 16, 1949:
Impressive Victor Deal
Savannah Churchill, whose last half-dozen records for Manor have reached the hit parade lists, signed a long-term pact this week with the RCA Victor Corporation. The impressive deal gives the songstress the right to choose her own songs.

Billboard, April 9, 1949:
Savannah Is Still With Manor, It Seems
NEW YORK, April 2— Savannah Churchill will continue to record for Manor Records, according to the chirp's personal manager, Irving Berman. Berman, who is also president of the diskery, spiked previous reports that she had switched to Victor, stating that she was linked to Manor by an iron-clad, long-term pact.

Billboard, August 18, 1951: RCA Victor, continuing its effort to invigorate its rhythm and blues department, last week signed a batch of new talent. Most important acquisition in name power was veteran thrush Savannah Churchill, who had an important disking in "I Want To Be Loved" a couple of years ago and who last recorded for the Regal diskery....

The Billboard Review (9/22/51):

SAVANNAH CHURCHILL — VICTOR 20-4280....
(It's No) Sin
(80) Miss Churchill debuts on Victor with a very substantial coverage slicing of the "sleeper" ballad hit. She's ably supported by a fine quartet. Could do well in r.&b. quarters.
I Don't Believe In Tomorrow (71) The husky throated thrush does a neat job with a pleasant enough balled.

(NOTE: A ratings range of 70-79 was considered "good" and 80-89 "excellent.")

The Cash Box Review (9/22/51):

SAVANNAH CHURCHILL — RCA VICTOR 20-4280; 47-4280.... Sin/I Don't Believe In Tomorrow
For her first effort on the Victor label Savannah Churchill takes the high flying "Sin" and does a real good job with it. Backed by a chorus, Savannah gets some good feeling into this. The lower end is a ballad which also comes out ok. Ops should listen in.



Above: Label images of Decca 28899 released in October 1953 and Decca 29262 released in September 1954. Savannah Churchill had five records on Decca (1953-54). These are the first of two records backed by the Ray Charles Singers and then the first of two records "With Quartet," respectively. Her first release on Decca did not have vocal group backing (See "EXTRA AUDIO" above).

Visit "SAVANNAH CHURCHILL DISCOGRAPHY" for a full listing of her recordings.

Billboard, August 15, 1953: ....Savannah Churchill has been signed by Decca. She formerly recorded for RCA Victor....

Billboard, August 15, 1953:
Decca Speeds Up R&B Pace
NEW YORK, Aug. 8—New artist signings and a stepped-up release schedule have given Decca Records' vitalized rhythm and blues department an upbeat character. Recently-appointed r.&b. chief, Bobby Shad, has just pacted four new performers....Just inked are Savannah Churchill....(whose) first disk for the label, coupling "Shake A Hand" and "Shed A Tear," was cut this week and has already been rushed out to deejays....

****************************************************************************************************
POST-SCRIPT:
Savannah provided us with a wealth of consistently excellent records. Her greatest fame came with Manor Records, but she also had successful releases on several major labels... Capitol, Columbia, RCA Victor, Decca, and Chess (Argo). She tried a comeback in the late 1950's having her final recording session (for Jamie) in 1960 resulting in an LP and one 45-rpm record (taken from the LP). But her health was not good. Savannah died from pneumonia on April 20, 1974.

Pittsburgh Courier, January 3, 1959: THE AMAZING COMEBACK of Savannah Churchill, the once-popular "No Time For Tears" [sic] vocalist of the '40s. Out of the marquee, nightclub and recording spotlight for several years, she's quietly making a new name for herself as a supper club artist by appearing at top clubs catering almost exclusively to white clientele.

Warren Times-Mirror And Observer (Warren, PA), November 16, 1962: Savannah Churchill, once a top recording star, is preparing to come out of retirement and resume her singing career later this month. She's taken a long time to recuperate from her accident of a few years ago, when she fell from the balcony of a Brooklyn theatre.
****************************************************************************************************

The Billboard Review (10/17/53):

SAVANNAH CHURCHILL — DECCA 28899....
Peace Of Mind
Religious-type tune, with much of the same spirit as "Shake A Hand," is given a stirring reading by the thrush. Lots of potential here. Could be some pop action here. Flip is "Stay Out Of My Dreams."

The Cash Box Review (10/31/53):

SAVANNAH CHURCHILL — DECCA 28899....
Peace Of Mind (C+)
The thrush, with an impressive voice, serves up a spiritual item with the Ray Charles Singers assisting. Has a tremendous range. Material too specialized.

(NOTE: A rating of C+ was considered "good.")

The Billboard Review (11/6/54):

SAVANNAH CHURCHILL — DECCA 29262....
Just Whisper
(70) The intimate style of the thrush is ideally suited to this tender, religious ballad. Listenable wax.

(NOTE: A ratings range of 70-79 was considered "good." Flip is "The Gypsy Was Wrong.")


Listen to this week's selections featuring Savannah Churchill on RCA Victor and Decca from 1951, 1953 and 1954:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

     A. Stream RealAudio...
 
          1. I Don't Believe In Tomorrow
          2. (It's No) Sin
          3. Peace Of Mind
          4. Just Whisper
 
          ALL FOUR played in sequence

     B. Download RealAudio...
 
          1. I Don't Believe In Tomorrow
          2. (It's No) Sin
          3. Peace Of Mind
          4. Just Whisper

     C. Stream/Download Media Player...
 
          1. I Don't Believe In Tomorrow
          2. (It's No) Sin
          3. Peace Of Mind
          4. Just Whisper
 
          ALL FOUR played in sequence


(L-R) Savannah from Tennessean Sun 12/31/50, Savannah from Detroit Free Press 10/12/51, and
Savannah with her brother, Wendell Johnson, at Music Systems Inc. (Seeburg Jukebox distributor)
Detroit opening from Cash Box 1/7/56.


      [To download audio files, right-click on link and then select "Save (Link) Target As..."]

Also enjoy SPOTLIGHT ON SAVANNAH CHURCHILL - PART ONE     PART TWO     PART THREE
(Above links will open in separate windows)


Back


This site is non-commercial. All information displayed is provided to further the general public's knowledge of RnB vocal group harmony.