Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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BAILEY, Mildred

(b Mildred Rinker, 27 Feb. '07, Tekoa WA; d 12 Dec. '51, Poughkeepsie NY) Singer, bandleader. Part Native American. Unique high-pitched range; accuracy and jazz-infl. phrasing made her one of the best girl singers of the '30s--40s, a favourite with musicians. Played piano in cinema, music store; brother Al was one of Paul Whiteman's Rhythm Boys trio with Bing Crosby; she worked for Whiteman from '29. She became famous on records and radio, married to Red Norvo; they co-led excellent band '36--9 billed as Mr and Mrs Swing, with arr. by Bill Sauter. With Benny Goodman '39; solo in '40s, own radio show '44--5. Serious car crash '32 led to inactivity and a weight problem which stayed with her, contributed to poor health later. Her Greatest Performances was a Columbia three-LP compilation from '29--46, full of beautiful phrasing; it needs a CD edition. Compilations on ASV, MCA, Pearl; the V-Discs on VJC; Me And The Blues on Savoy collects Majestic tracks from '46 with good jazz sidemen; see also entry for Norvo.