Robert Anderson

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Robert Anderson | Youtube/Copyright control | tc502

Gospel singer and composer Robert Anderson was born on March 21, 1919 and died on June 15, 1995. He was born in Mississippi and moved to Chicago as a child. He joined the Roberta Martin singers in 1933 and recorded for a number of labels including Premium and Chess.

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Sarah McLawler

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Sarah McLawler | Copyright control | tc498

Jazz and rhythm and blues pianist, organist and singer Sarah McLawler Kimes was born on August 9, 1926 and died on September 12, 2017.

Her professional career as a singer began in 1946 and she was closely associated with Billy Eckstine, Charlie Parker, Gene Ammons and the International Sweethearts of Rhythm.

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Sarah McLawler | Uncredited | tc499

Rhythm Willie

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The only known photo of Rhythm Willie | Copyright control | tc493

One of the most famous harmonica players in blues music, until recently very little was known about Rhythm Willie. His name may have been William Hood. He is now understood to have been born on 15 September, probably in 1910. His first recording is dated September 14, 1939, for Decca. At the time he was a regular in Chicago’s DeLisa Club where he played with Billy Eckstine and Bertha Hill. On October 10, 1940 he did a session for Okeh Records in Chicago. Newspapers report that he appeared in Mexico before appearing at DeLisa’s.

Singing Sammy Lewis

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A Sammy Lewis LP | Popsike | tc484

Samuel Allan Lewis was born in Chicago,Illinois on April 4, 1925, started singing at 5 years and at age 6 he was singing gospel music on radio station WSBC.

In 1943 he entered army service and on his return he became director of the Radio Choir of the Evangelist Temple Church of God In Christ, touring with Mahalia Jackson.

He signed to Chess in 1949 but again entered army service in Korea in 1950 serving for two years. He continued to have recordings issued on the Checker label throughout the 1960s.

He was considered one of America’s top ten gospel singers, but there has been no record of him for some time and it is feared the gentleman has died.

Little Miss Cornshucks

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Little Miss Cornshucks | Planet Barberella | tc404

Mildred Cummings Jordan (Little Miss Cornshucks) was born on 26 May 1923 and died on 11 November 1999. A night club singer of many years standing, she had a long season in Chicago night clubs. She was very influential, with Aretha Franklin among those naming her as an influence; and was responsible for Atlantic Records’ Ahmet Ertegun becoming interested in recording music. “Little Miss Cornshucks” was a character of “a country girl lost in a big city” which was designed to appeal to the many men who had migrated to Chicago from the Southern States. \After recording over a number of years for many labels she recorded an LP for Chess in 1960, from which a single was taken, but her act suddenly became old fashioned and she ended her live appearances in 1961.

Washboard Sam

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Washboard Sam | Keeping the Blues Alive | tc366

Robert Brown (Washboard Sam), pictured, was born on July 15, 1910 and died on November 6, 1966 of heart disease. He is reputed to be related to Big Bill Broonzy. He recorded widely from the 1930s. When his career hit a lull in the late 1940s he became a Police Officer. Until a successful appeal in 2009, his grave had been unmarked.

Leroy Kirkland

Arranger, bandleader, guitarist and song writer Leroy Kirkland was born on February 10, 1906 and died on April 6, 1988. His career went from the 1930’s pre-swing era to soul. In the 1940s he worked with Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey and began arranging music at Savoy Records, OKeh Records, Mercury Records and other companies including Chess.

His successes included Screamin’ Jay Hawkins “I Put A Spell On You”, Big Maybelle’s “Gabbin’ Blues” and Barbie Gaye’s original version of “My Boy Lollipop”. He is also associated with Wilbert Harrison, Etta James, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, The Righteous Brothers, The Supremes, Brook Benton and the Five Satins.