Cat Quintet: Aurora – The Andrews Sisters

Aurora-The Andrews Sisters
Aurora-The_Andrews_Sisters
The_Andrews_Sisters_1952The Andrews Sisters were a highly successful close harmony singing group of the swing and boogie-woogie eras. The group consisted of three sisters: contralto LaVerne Sophia Andrews (July 6, 1911 – May 8, 1967), soprano Maxene Angelyn Andrews (January 3, 1916 – October 21, 1995), and mezzo-soprano Patricia Marie “Patty” Andrews (born February 16, 1918). Throughout their long career, the sisters sold well over 75 million records (the last official count released by MCA Records in the mid-1970s). Their 1941 hit “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” can be considered an early example of rhythm and blues[1][2] or jump blues.The Andrews Sisters’ harmonies and songs are still influential today, and have been covered by entertainers such as Bette Midler, The Puppini Sisters, Christina Aguilera and The Three Belles. The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998.
ContentsThe Andrews sisters were born in Minnesota to a Greek immigrant father Peter Andreas (probably an Americanization of Petros Andreou) (1884–1949), and a Norwegian American mother[3] Olga “Ollie” (née Sollie) Andrews (1886–1948).Patty, the youngest and the lead singer of the group, was only seven when the group was formed, and just 12 when they won first prize at a talent contest at the local Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, where LaVerne played piano accompaniment for the silent film showings in exchange for free dancing lessons for herself and her sisters. Once the sisters found fame and settled in California, their parents lived with them in a Brentwood estate in Los Angeles until their deaths. Several cousins from Minnesota followed them west. The sisters returned to Minneapolis at least once a year to visit family and friends and/or to perform.
CareerThey started their career as imitators of an earlier successful singing group, the Boswell Sisters. After singing with various dance bands and touring in vaudeville with the likes of Ted Mack, Leon Belasco, and comic bandleader Larry Rich, they first came to national attention with their recordings and radio broadcasts in 1937, most notably via their major Decca record hit, Bei Mir Bist Du Schön (translation: “To Me, You Are Beautiful”),[4] originally a Yiddish tune, the lyrics of which Sammy Cahn had translated to English and which the girls harmonized to perfection. They followed this success with a string of best-selling records over the next two years and they became a household name by 1940.
World War IIDuring World War II, they entertained the Allied forces extensively in America, Africa and Italy, visiting Army, Navy, Marine and Coast Guard bases, war zones, hospitals, and munitions factories.[5] They encouraged U.S. citizens to purchase war bonds with their rendition of Irving Berlin’s song Any Bonds Today?. They also helped actress Bette Davis and actor John Garfield found California’s famous Hollywood Canteen, a welcome retreat for servicemen where the trio often performed, volunteering their personal time to sing and dance for the soldiers, sailors and Marines (they did the same at New York City’s Stage Door Canteen during the war). While touring, they often treated three random servicemen to dinner when they were dining out. They recorded a series of Victory Discs (V-Discs) for distribution to Allied fighting forces only, again volunteering their time for studio sessions for the Music Branch, Special Service Division of the Army Service Forces, and they were dubbed the “Sweethearts of the Armed Forces Radio Service” for their many appearances on shows like “Command Performance”, “Mail Call”, and “G.I. Journal.”

The Andrews Sisters broke up in 1951. The trio reunited in 1956. They signed a new recording contract with Capitol Records (for whom Patty had become a featured soloist) and released a dozen singles through 1959, some rock-and-roll flavored and not very well received, and three hi-fi albums, including a vibrant LP of songs from the dancing 1920s with Billy May’s orchestra. In 1962, they signed with Dot Records and recorded a series of stereo albums until 1964, both re-recordings of earlier hits, as well as new material, including “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”, “Still”, “The End of the World”,[disambiguation needed] “Puff the Magic Dragon”, “Sailor”, “Satin Doll”, the theme from Come September, and the theme from A Man and a Woman. They toured extensively during the 1960s, favoring top nightclubs in Las Vegas, Nevada, California and London, England.

When the sisters burst upon the music scene in the late 1930s, they shook a very solid musical foundation: producing a slick harmonic blend by singing at the top of their lungs while trying – successfully – to emulate the blare of three harmonizing trumpets, with a full big band racing behind them. Some bandleaders of the day, such as Artie Shaw and his musicians, resented them for taking the focus away from the band and emphasizing the vocals instead. They were in as high demand as the big bandleaders themselves, many of whom did not want to share the spotlight and play back-up to a girl trio.

Nevertheless, they found instant appeal with teenagers and young adults who were engrossed in the swing and jazz idioms, especially when they performed with nearly all of the major big bands, including those led by Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Buddy Rich, Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey, Gene Krupa, Joe Venuti, Freddie Slack, Eddie Heywood, Bob Crosby (Bing’s brother), Desi Arnaz, Guy Lombardo, Les Brown, Bunny Berigan, Xavier Cugat, Paul Whiteman, Ted Lewis, Nelson Riddle and mood-master Gordon Jenkins, whose orchestra and chorus accompanied them on such successful soft and melancholy renditions as “I Can Dream, Can’t I?” (which shot to number one on Billboard and remained in the Top 10 for 25 weeks), “I Wanna Be Loved”, “There Will Never Be Another You”, and the inspirational “The Three Bells” (the first recorded English version of the French composition), along with several solo recordings with Patty, including a cover version of Nat King Cole’s “Too Young”, “It Never Entered My Mind”, “If You Go”, and “That’s How A Love Song Is Born”.

“Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” can be considered an early recording of rhythm and blues or jump blues.
Many styles

While the sisters specialized in swing, boogie-woogie, and novelty hits with their trademark lightning-quick vocal syncopations, they also produced major hits in jazz, ballads, folk, country-western, seasonal, and religious titles, being the first Decca artists to record an album of gospel standards in 1950. Their versatility allowed them to pair with many different artists in the recording studios, producing Top 10 hits with the likes of Bing Crosby (the only recording artist of the 1940s to sell more records than The Andrews Sisters), Danny Kaye, Dick Haymes, Carmen Miranda, Al Jolson, Ray McKinley, Burl Ives, Ernest Tubb, Red Foley, Dan Dailey, Alfred Apaka, and Les Paul. In personal appearances, on radio and on television, they sang with everyone from Rudy Vallee, Judy Garland and Nat “King” Cole to Jimmie Rodgers, Andy Williams, and The Supremes. Some obvious 1930’s song styles can be heard with early contemporary harmonizers of their day with the Boswell Sisters, and the Three X Sisters.
Films

Maxene, Patty, and LaVerne appeared in 17 Hollywood films. Their first picture, Argentine Nights, paired them with another enthusiastic trio, the Ritz Brothers.[12] Universal Pictures, always budget-conscious, refused to hire a choreographer, so the Ritzes taught the sisters some eccentric steps. Thus, in Argentine Nights and the sisters’ next film, Buck Privates, the Andrews Sisters dance like the Ritz Brothers.

Buck Privates, with Abbott and Costello, featured the Andrews Sisters’ best-known song, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”. This Don Raye-Hughie Prince composition was nominated for Best Song at the 1941 Academy Awards ceremony.

They recorded 47 songs with crooner Bing Crosby, 23 of which charted on Billboard, thus making the team one of the most successful pairings of acts in a recording studio in show business history. Their million-sellers with Crosby included “Pistol Packin’ Mama”, “Don’t Fence Me In”, “South America, Take It Away”, and “Jingle Bells”, among other yuletide favorites.

The sisters’ popularity was such that after the war they discovered some of their records had actually been smuggled into Germany after the labels had been changed to read “Hitler’s Marching Songs”. Their recording of Bei Mir Bist Du Schön became a favorite of the Nazis, until it was discovered that the song’s composers were of Jewish descent. Still, it did not stop concentration camp inmates from secretly singing it, this is most likely since the song was originally a Yiddish song “Bei Mir Bistu Shein”, and had been popularized within the Jewish community before it was recorded as a more successful “cover” version by the Andrews sisters.

The Andrews Sisters became the best-selling female vocal group in the history of popular music, setting records that remain unsurpassed to this day: