Vocal Group Record Of The Week
#830 (1/17/15 - 1/30/15)

"Bewildered"/"Juke Box Boogie"
by Hadda Brooks With The Ebonaires/Hadda Brooks Trio
on Modern 20-662A/B
released in 1949


Above: Hadda Brooks was a singer, piano player, television host and motion picture performer.

Excerpts from Pittsburgh Post Gazette dated 12/2/02:

....Hadda Brooks' first single, the hit "Swingin' The Boogie," in 1945, launched not only her career, but Los Angeles-based Modern Records, which became the West Coast's premier postwar R&B label. As a singer in the late 1940s and '50s, Miss Brooks scored hits such as "Trust In Me," "Don't Take Your Love From Me" and "Dream." She also sang in several films and, in the early '50s, became the first black entertainer to host a television variety show, which aired on Channel 13 in Los Angeles....

She was born Hadda Hopgood in Los Angeles in 1916. At age 4, she begged her parents (her mother was a doctor, her father a deputy sheriff) for piano lessons. She later studied classical music.

In 1941, she married Earl "Shug" Morrison, who played for the Harlem Globetrotters. But Morrison died of pneumonia within a year.... She worked as a rehearsal piano player in tap-dance coach Willie Covan's studio, where the clients included Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Eleanor Powell. Although Miss Brooks often frequented blues clubs, she had no show-business aspirations.

That changed in 1945, when a jukebox repairman named Jules Bihari heard her rehearsing in a downtwn music store for a children's dance troupe. "I was trying to get a whole bunch of different rhythms from 'The Poet And Peasant' overture," Miss Brooks recalled. "I got the waltz and rumba, and I was trying to get the boogie down. There was a man standing near me while I was playing, and he asked me if I could do a boogie. I said 'Well, I'm trying.' And he said 'I'll give you a week. If you can work up a boogie, I'll record it. I have $800, and if it goes, then we're in business. If it doesn't go, I've lost $800.'" Bihari, who gave Miss Brooks her stage name, parlayed his $800 investment into Modern Records, which went on to record other artists such as B.B. King and Etta James.

In 1947, Miss Brooks was appearing with the Charlie Barnet Orchestra at the Million Dollar Theater in downtown Los Angeles. Barnet asked what she'd do if she got an encore. When she answered "Another boogie," Barnet said, "Why don't you sing and break the monotony?" At the next show, Miss Brooks sang "You Won't Let Me Go," which became her first vocal recording. She recorded for 12 years with Modern, London Records and Columbia's Okeh label.






Above: (Left) Hadda Brooks and The Ebonaires at the Apollo on the same billing... from New York Age Newspaper (October 1953). (Right) A young looking Hadda, date not known.



THE EBONAIRES...From Alfred (NY) Sun dated 7/29/48
The Ebonaires Feature A Program Of Song.... For twenty years this great male quartet has been tireless in its efforts to create good will and understanding through the medium of songs that plaintively express the feelings of the Negro race, be it joy or sorrow. Their program always includes such favorites as "Workin' On De Railroad," "Shortnin' Bread," "Old Man River," "Swing Low Sweet Chariot," and many other spirituals, work songs and plantation melodies. This quartet has been featured in long runs of "Porgy And Bess" and "Swing Mikado," and has been a popular attraction on the radio network. Known as one of the finest musical groups in America, their music appeals to young and old alike....


THE EBONAIRES...ON NEW SIDES (from California Eagle Newspaper, March 1948)
Now recording exclusively for Crystal Recording Company, the up and coming Ebonaires have recently waxed off these sure hits, "What Do I Do On Sunday," "Bye, Bye, Bye, Bye," and "Doll House." Their last appearance was at Larry Potter's Supper Club in San Fernando Valley and they have performed at many fashionable spots on the coast. They have also made guest appearances on benefit theatre shows, special television shows, and with popular disc jockeys on radio programs. The versatility of the group is expressed in their blues, hillbilly, jump, and barbershop numbers. Featured are John Dix (bass); James Bradley, baritone; Reuben Vaughn, second tenor; and Charles McCladdie, first tenor.

(NOTE: The above article seems like a publicity release by their Promotion Manager. The Ebonaires had just one record on Crystal, "Doll House"/"Rockin' The Town," released in 1947 (per Disco-File). "Bye Bye, Bye Bye" and "Come In, Mr. Blues" were sold to M-G-M in January 1949 and released on that label the following month. It was their only record on M-G-M.)





[The above image courtesy of Phil Beauchamp.]
Above: The Ebonaires from the 1951 movie "Meet Danny Wilson." They are backing up Frank Sinatra on the song "I Got A Crush On You." Shelly Winters is also in the still shot. Per Phil Beauchamp, the group's members in this film are Louis Young (first tenor), Norman Brooks (second tenor), James Bradley (baritone) and John Dix (bass).

They were also in the musical-comedy theatrical production "Sugar Hill" in 1949. Their members for this show consisted of Charles E. McCladdie, John C. Dix, James O. Bradley and Norman Brooks.



(The Billboard 8/20/49)

(Pittsburgh Courier 9/3/49)

"Peace, Sister, Peace" is Monette Moore backed by The Ebonaires, but "Keep 'Em Guessing" is Monette singing solo.
Both sides are on Columbia 30173 and were released in August 1949.


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

"You Can't Lose A Broken Heart" - Johnny Lee And The Ebonaires - Columbia 30172 - August 1949.

The flip of Columbia 30172 is "My Sweet Hunk O' Trash" by Dolores Parker without vocal group backing.




(Thanks to Marv Goldberg for the clipping at left and the above information.)




Above Left: Hadda Brooks from Pittsburgh Courier dated 5/29/54. Encription on photo: "Lovely Hadda Brooks, piano stylist, is one of our more accomplished supper club attractions. Miss Brooks does well in the looks department, don't you think?"

Above Right: Hadda Brooks from Miami News dated 3/20/58: Record Artist On Beach—Hadda Brooks, recording vocalist, opens tonight in the Cotillion Room of the Beau Rivage Motel. She has sung in several moving pictures.



Phonograph Record Proves Magic Carpet To Stardom
(From Afro-American dated 10/11/47)
BALTIMORE—Many movie actresses have entered films via the stage, the radio, beauty and popularity contests, from jobs as waitresses, elevator operators and counter clerks. But Hadda Brooks, Modern Records No. 1 star, is probably one of the few to scale the portals of Hollywood on a phonograph record as a magic carpet.

It happened this way: Director Leigh Jason, at work one night studying the script of his then forthcoming Eagle Lion film, "Out Of The Blue," was unable to concentrate on the job at hand. A neighbor's phonograph kept playing repeatedly a recording of "That's My Desire." Jason called on the neighbor, a total stranger, introduced himself and, to insure no further interruption of his skull practice, bought the record --- and phonograph. Weeks later, while seeking a vocalist to sing the film's title theme song, Jason suddenly recalled the record he'd heard. He phoned Mrs. Jason at home, had her play the disc while he listened over the phone.

The voice was just the sort he was seeking. Subsequent inquiry elicited information from the Modern Record Co., makers of the platter, that the soloist was Hadda Brooks. Eagle Lion contacted Miss Brooks and signed her for an appearance in "Out Of The Blue," her first picture.

Coincidentally, Miss Brooks is currently playing Baltimore's Royal Theatre, while her new picture is having its premiere in a downtown theatre; her recordings topping the week's juke box parade and record stores' sales.

Born in Los Angeles, of non-professional parents, Hadda graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.A. degree in music. She made her debut as a vocalist at the Million Dollar Theatre in Los Angeles with Charlie Barnet's orchestra in 1946, going from there to Theatre Club, Oakland. She has made frequent appearances on the air with Rudy Vallee and Jerry Lester at the Club Copacabana in San Francisco, and with Lionel Hampton, Erskine Hawkins, Frank Bull and others. Her recording, "Bully Wully Boogie," has been adopted as the theme song of disc-jockey Bull's fan organization, the KFWB Bully Wully Club, membership in excess of 100,000.

Her first recording was "Swinging The Boogie." Her most popular, "That's My Desire," has sold more than a half-million copies.

Following completion of her role in "Out Of The Blue," she is currently on a nation-wide tour, her first time East, appearing at the Harlem Apollo Theatre, Washington's Howard and now Baltimore Royal. Her party includes her personal manager, Joe Bihari, and a secretary, Winnie Brooks [Hadda's sister], graduate of Howard and Columbia universities. She will be at Chicago's Regal, Detroit's Paradise, back to Hollywood and a stint at Club Chanticlaire and back to NYC for an engagement at the Copacabana.

Hadda is one of the few discoveries to begin at the top of the ladder. Her first professional engagement was at $1000 per week, and in less than a year it soared to $1500. She received $4500 for her work in "Out Of The Blue" in which she does one scene with Ann Dvorak. She considers this role "a wonderful break," and Miss Dvorak, a very democratic person. She still has commitments with Columbia Pictures and Eagle Lion for additional films.

In discussing the battle of the hemlines, Hadda says she's in sympathy with the men, "but women must keep up with the style if they are to be well dressed." One of her hobbies is clothes and she really wears them. She has 15 gorgeous costumes hanging in her dressing room backstage at the Royal.

She prefers Hollywood to the East. "You get better opportunity there and you don't face so many embarassing situations," she said. She was burning somewhat when she said that, following the refusal of a downtown Baltimore store to allow her secretary to try on a dress. "I don't get it," she said.

Her favorite recording is "Polanaise Boogie," from which her royalties to date have passed the $20,000 mark. While she is the top feminine recording artist, there's more on her mind. She's 23 years of age and single, and her greatest ambition is to "become a normal housewife." When asked if she had a real heart interest, she replied, "could be. "She's five feet, five inches, weighs 124 pounds, has black hair and brown eyes. Thus far, she hasn't lost her equallibrium, is easily approached and wants people to like her.

In addition to clothes, her other hobbies are swimming and dancing. She plays the organ for her own amusement and delights in rendering boogie-woogie versions of the classics. She lives in Los Angeles with her mother, and an older sister and a pet cocker spaniel, Bully Wully.





[Hadda Brooks at piano from 1950 movie "In A Lonely Place"]

Hadda Brooks appeared in several movies, including "Out Of The Blue" (1947), "Boogie Woogie Blues" (1948), "The Joint Is Jumpin'" (1949), "In A Lonely Place" (1950) and "The Bad And The Beautiful" (1952). She also hosted a variety TV series, "The Hadda Brooks Show," in 1957.


Above: Label image of Modern 20-662A released in February 1949. The flip is "Juke Box Boogie," an instrumental by Hadda Brooks Trio recorded in 1946. Hadda Brooks had releases on Modern (1945-52), London (1950-51), and Okeh (1952-54) before returning to Modern/Crown in 1956.

The Ebonaires also served as the backing vocal group for Clark Butler (1946), Billy Day (1949), Johnny Lee (1949), Monette Moore (1949), and Freddy Jackson (1955). On their own, they had releases on Crystal (1947), Colonial (1949), Modern (1949), M-G-M (1949), Aladdin (1953-54), and Money (1956).

Listen to this week's selections by Hadda Brooks With The Ebonaires on Modern 20-662A from 1949:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]

     A. Stream RealAudio...
 
          1. Bewildered
          2. Juke Box Boogie (I)
 
          BOTH played in sequence

     B. Download RealAudio...
 
          1. Bewildered
          2. Juke Box Boogie (I)

     C. Stream/Download Media Player...
 
          1. Bewildered
          2. Juke Box Boogie (I)

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


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Last Updated: January 17, 2015

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