Song: Dream (a-side) (b-side is How Much)
Label: Atlantic A-3049
Songwriters: Johnny Mercer
This second post for today features an artist who, although she recorded for the well-known R&B label Atlantic, was firmly entrenched in the Popular sound. And another special thing about her - she's still living and performing regularly! Be sure to check out her website after you finish here.
Betty Johnson was born on March 16th, 1929, in Guilford County, North Carolina. Her professional debut was in a family group, The Johnson Family Singers, including her parents and three brothers, singing a repertoire primarily of religious material. The group won a singing contest in Charlotte, and was signed to a contract on a WBT-AM, a major radio station in that city. By 1948, Betty had her own 15-minute radio show. While still a teenager, she was signed to Columbia Records, but no hits resulted. But, thanks to having been at Columbia, Percy Faith tried to convince Mitch Miller to sign her and work with her, but he already had Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney, among other artists, and saw no need.
She recorded a children's record with Eddy Arnold and eventually signed with first, Bell Records, then RCA Victor Records, which resulted in them asking her to relocate to Chicago, Illinois. Once arriving in the Windy City, she worked again with Eddy, on his syndicated television show, Eddy Arnold Time. She was backed by a group that had performed with her family years earlier, and who would achieve world-wide recognition in coming years singing back-up for Elvis Presley, The Jordanaires. She also did some work on Don McNeill's show, The Breakfast Club, in 1955. This led to her being hired by Jack Paar for his show, Tonight. She worked alongside him from 1957 until 1962, when Johnny Carson took over. Johnny's girl singer is somebody already well-known here at Music For Every Mood, so be sure to look up Jill Corey. In 1964, Betty married an investment banker in New York City named Arthur Gray. They had two daughters and Betty mostly retired from the music business until 1993, when she appeared at the Algonquin Hotel in New York and subsequently started her own record label, Bliss Tavern Music, for which she continues to make recordings to this day.
Some of the songs she recorded are Red Sails In The Sunset, The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs, I'll Follow You, For You, Always, In Other Words, Wrong, There's Never Been A Night, Mr. Brown Is Out Of Town, Together, Once In A While, The Very Thought Of You, Dancing In The Dark, Goodnight Sweetheart, I Want A Good Home For My Cat, You Can't Get To Heaven On Roller Skates, Manuel Cho Cho Cho And Pedro, Hoopa Hoola, Just One More Time, I Get The Blues When It Rains and her biggest hit, I Dreamed. Other hits included 1492, Little Blue Man, Little White Lies, The Song You Heard When You Fell In Love, I Want Eddie Fisher For Christmas, Slipping Around and today's song, Dream.
Which brings us full circle to the subject of this post. Listening to the dreamy arrangement of Dream, with an orchestra conducted by Charles Grean, one can instantly tell where Betty wears her heart. She is a dyed-in-the-wool Pop vocalist, and her singing on this record proves it. With the slimmed down sensabilities of a rock and roll combo, featuring a sax and piano, she really shines with this Johnny Mercer classic. If you like the smooth voices of Pop Singers, which is probably why you're reading this right now, then be sure and listen to Betty Johnson as she sings one of her classic songs, Dream. Then go check out all the wonderful recordings she offers on her website!