The Soundtrack For The Baby Boomer Generation

Step back to a time when singers were as bright as the stars in the heavens
and the music they sang was really swingin'. Stacks of wax to fit every occasion!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Dallas Dark Horse

Artist: Ella Mae Morse
Song: I'm Gone (a-side) (b-side is Sway Me)
Label: Capitol White Label F3759 (Promotional Record - Not For Sale)
Number: 45-17188
Songwriters: Quincy Jones - King Pleasure
Time: 3:00
Released: August 1st, 1957

This post gets back to some real jazzy roots. In fact, today's artist blended jazz, pop and R&B to create her unique sound. I'm speaking, of course, about Ella Mae Morse, one of the most talented and overlooked vocalists of the 1940's.
Ella Mae Morse was born in Mansfield, Texas, on September 12th, 1924. She was hired by Jimmy Dorsey when she was 14 years old. Dorsey believed she was 19, and when he was informed by the school board that he was now responsible for her care, he fired her. In 1942, at the age of 17, she joined Freddie Slack's band, with whom in the same year she recorded Cow Cow Boogie, Capitol Records' very first gold single. Mr. Five By Five and Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet were two other hits Ella Mae and Slack released. By 1943, she was singing solo and reached #1 in the R&B charts with Shoo-Shoo Baby. Also in that same year, she had a cameo in the film Reveille With Beverly. Despite appearances on the big screen and the pop and R&B charts, Ella Mae Morse never received the popularity of a major star.
Other songs she released was Love Me Or Leave Me, Blacksmith Blues, The House Of Blue Lights, which saw her as one of the first white artists to perform what is now seen as Rhythm and Blues, and Down The Road A Piece. She also recorded a version of Oakie Boogie for Capitol, which reached #23 in the charts and was one of the first songs arranged by Nelson Riddle. She was married twice, first to Marvin L. Gerber, and later to Jack Bradford. She had six children. Her last recordings were for Capitol Records, in 1957, but she continued performing until 1987. Sadly, Ella Mae Morse died on October 16th, 1999, in Bullhead City, Arizona, of respiratory failure. She was 75. For her contributions to the entertainment industry, she was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is located at 1724 Vine Street.
Seeing as how Ella Mae stopped recording completely in the year 1957, today's song could very well be her final recording! I suppose the call of motherhood became too strong for her to overcome and she retreated from the glare of the spotlight. What a tragedy that was for all her fans. I'm Gone proves that she still had the talent and ability to hold her own with any of the Jazz greats from that era, or any other era, for that matter. Her natural inflection and toning proved that she had mastered Jazz, just as she had risen to the top in the Pop and R&B fields, too. So, please download and listen to Ella Mae Morse, one of the great stylists of the 1940's and 1950's as she declares I'm Gone. In the parlance of the Jazz set, I can say she's gone, man - totally gone!

3 comments:

Ravel said...

Thank you so muche for this tune ! I have a few from her, but this one is quite cool!
Have a great day K!

HaarFager said...

For anyone interested, here is the flipside of this post:

Ella Mae Morse - Sway

HaarFager said...

Of course, the track's full name is "Sway Me," but you probably knew that from the post! Just making sure to have the correct information.