Happy Birthday Valaida Snow!


Valaida Snow, Trumpet/Vocal
b. Chattanooga, TN/or Washington
D.C., USA, d. May 30, 1956, New York, NY. USA
(some sources claim b. 1903)
~by Jason Ankeny 
If fate had not seemingly conspired against her, Valaida Snow might well be counted among the greatest entertainers of the early 20th century; instead, she remains little known outside of an avid cult following, a gifted blues vocalist and multi-instrumentalist also noted for her skills as an arranger.
Born June 2, 1903 in Chattanooga, Tennessee (although other sources have stated otherwise), Snow was the product of a musical family; her mother, a music teacher, taught Valaida and her sisters Lavaida and Alvaida to play a wide variety of instruments, among them cello, bass, mandolin, violin, clarinet, saxophone and accordion. The girls also sang and danced, but when Valaida turned professional at the age of 15, she began focusing on vocals and trumpet, and by 1924 she was already a featured performer in the Noble Sissle/Eubie Blake musical In Bamville (a.k.a. The Chocolate Dandies).
By the age of 22, Snow was headlining Barron Wilkins' Harlem cabaret show, and throughout the remaining years of the 1920s, she toured relentlessly, appearing throughout the U.S. in conjunction with the Will Mastin Trio and performing in London and Paris in the musical Blackbirds. In 1926 she toured the Far East, and in 1928 headlined Chicago's Sunset Cafe, where her energetic performances won the admiration of Louis Armstrong, as well as Earl Hines, who soon became her lover.
By the early 1930s, Snow was starring in the Sissle/Blake revue Rhapsody in Black, and its success helped bring her to Hollywood, where alongside then-husband Ananais Berry she appeared in a number of films. By all rights Snow should have been a major superstar, but as a black performer she was subject to considerable racism; worse still, as a woman, she was an outsider even within the jazz community -- her perfect pitch, gifts for arranging and brilliant trumpeting did not help her cause, but only made her that much more of a curiosity.
After headlining the Apollo Theatre, Snow travelled back to Europe for more film work and live dates during the late 1930s; however, in 1941, while in Nazi-occupied Copenhagen, she was captured by German forces and interned in a concentration camp in Wester-Faengle.
Eighteen months later, she was freed as an exchange prisoner, and allowed to return to New York; tragically, Snow never fully recovered from the ordeal -- scarred psychologically as well as physcially, she attempted to return to performing, but the spark was clearly gone, so much so that when Hines saw her appear live in 1943 he reportedly did not even recognize her.
Following her marriage to manager Earle Edwards, she continued to work in spite of her personal suffering, but after playing the Palace Theater in New York on May 30, 1956, she died of a massive cerebral hemorrhage. Valaida Snow was 52 years old.

Marty Napoleon, Piano
b. New York (Brooklyn), NY, USA.
d. April 27, 2015, NY, USA
né: Mathew Napoli.
In 1941, with Bob Astor Orch.; 1942 with Chico Marx Orch. - and then playing variously with Joe Venuti: Lee Castle; Georgie Auld; Teddy Powell and Charlie Barnet bands. In 1946, was in Gene Krupa's band (where he had replaced his own brother - Teddy.) In 1950 (after he had worked in his Uncle Phil Napoleon's band), he worked with both Charlie Ventura's big band and, in '51, with the Big Four (Chubby Jackson, Marty, Ventura, and Buddy Rich). In 1952, he toured Hawaii, and in 1953 - Europe, with Louis Armstrong after he had replaced Earl "Fatha" Hines in Louis' hot combo.
Left to right: Don Varella, Stan Johnson, Marty Napoleon, Fraser MacPherson. Penthouse, Vancouver, B.C. April 4, 1952. Photo courtesy of the Fraser MacPherson estate
In December 1955, he and his brother Teddy formed a twin piano quartet, after which Marty formed his own group for a gig, that lasted from 1956 to 1958, at New York's Metropole cafe. He was still at the Metropole during 1958 - '59 but now with Coleman Hawkins and Charlie Shavers. During '59-'60, he had his own trio. Subsequently, he appeared at the Stony Brook, Randall's Island, and Great South Bay Jazz Festivals (all in New York, NY USA). 

Leonard "Baby Doo" Caston, Piano
b. Sumrall, MS, USA
d. Aug. 22, 1987, Minneapolis, MN, USA.
Worked with Willie Dixon and others
Leonard "Baby Doo" Caston (1917-1987) was an American blues pianist and guitarist. Caston was born in Sumrall, Mississippi and raised in Meadville, Mississippi from age eight. He lived in Chicago from 1934 to 1936 but then moved back to Mississippi after his family relocated toNatchez. He learned to play piano under the influence of Leroy Carr and Art Tatum; he has also credited Andy Kirk and Jimmie Rodgers, as well as his relative Kim Weathersby, as stylistic influences.
In 1938 he returned to Chicago, where he met with Mayo Williams, a producer for Decca Records. Williams recorded him in a trio with Eugene Gilmore and Arthur Dixon; Dixon introduced him to his brother, Willie Dixon. Willie and Caston then formed the Five Breezes, along with Jimmy Gilmore,Joe Bell, and Willie Hawthorne, a group in the style of The Ink Spots. In 1940, Caston recorded his first solo record for Decca, "The Death of Walter Barnes", which also included Robert Nighthawk onharmonica.
The Five Breezes disbanded in 1941, and Caston began playing in the Rhythm Rascals Trio withAlfred Elkins and Ollie Crawford. The group did USO tours, and in 1945 performed at a conference for Dwight Eisenhower, Bernard Montgomery, and Georgy Zhukov. After the war, he recorded under his own name as well as for Roosevelt Sykes and Walter Davis, and did myriad studio sessions. He also recorded again with Dixon as the Four Jumps of Jive and the Big Three Trio, playing in both groups with Bernardo Dennis as well. Ollie Crawford joined this group soon after Dennis's departure. The Big Three Trio reorded for Columbia Records and Okeh Records.
The Big Three Trio's last sides were recorded in 1952, but the group didn't officially break up until 1956. Caston continued performing for decades afterwards, returning to perform with Dixon in 1984. He also released an album, Baby Doo's House Party, shortly before his death in 1987.
His son, Leonard Caston, Jr., is an R&B singer who sang with The Radiants among other endeavors.

Bert Farber, Leader
b. New York (Brooklyn) NY, USA.
Led orchestras for Arthur Godfrey and Vic Damone.
Composer, bandleader, songwriter, pianist and arranger, educated at Washington and Lee University. He was the orchestra leader for Cincinnati radio station WLW, and appeared with his orchestra at several Cincinnati theatres and ballrooms, and he also recorded for several labels, including Fraternity Records. Joining ASCAP in 1958, his chief musical collaborator was Peter Lind Hayes.

Wallace Hartley, Leader
b. England
d. April 14, 1912.
Hartley was the leader of the band on the Titanic. It is said that he had the band play "Nearer My God To Thee" as the vessal sank. His body was later recovered (by the SS MacKay-Bennett) from the Atlantic Ocean, and returned for internment in England.
Wallace Henry Hartley (2 June 1878 – 15 April 1912) was a violinistand bandleader on the RMS Titanic on its maiden voyage. He became famous for leading the eight member band as the ship sank on 15 April 1912.
Life and career
Wallace Hartley was born in Colne, Lancashire, and later moved toDewsbury, West Yorkshire. In school he learned to play the violin and in 1909 began working on Cunard Line ocean liners, primarily on theRMS Mauretania. In 1912 Hartley worked for the music agency C.W. & F.N. Black, which supplied musicians for Cunard and the White Star Line.
In April of that year Hartley was assigned to be the bandmaster for the White Star Line ship RMS Titanic. He was at first hesitant to again leave his fiancée, Maria Robinson, to  whom he had recently proposed, but Hartley decided that working on the maiden voyage of the Titanic would give him possible contacts for future work.
Sinking of the Titanic
After the Titanic hit an iceberg and began to sink, Hartley and his fellow band members started playing music to help keep the passengers calm as the crew loaded the lifeboats. Many of the survivors claimed that he and the band continued to play till the very end. None of the band members survived the sinking and the story of them playing to the end became a popular legend (but sometimes mocked in popular culture). One survivor who clambered aboard Collapsible A claimed to have seen Hartley and his band standing just behind the first funnel, by the Grand Staircase. He went on to say that he saw three of them washed off while the other two held on to the railing on top the Grand Staircase's deckhouse, only to be dragged down with the bow. A newspaper at the time reported "the part played by the orchestra on board the Titanic in her last dreadful moments will rank among the noblest in the annals of heroism at sea."
Hartley's body was recovered by the Mackay–Bennet as body number 224 almost two weeks after the sinking. He was transferred to the Arabic and sent to England. One thousand people attended his funeral, while 40,000 lined the route of his funeral procession. He is buried in Colne where a 10-foot monument, containing a carved violin at its base, was erected in his honour. Hartley's large Victorian terraced house in West Park Street, Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, bears ablue plaque to remind passers-by that this was the bandleader's home. As of 2001, Hartley's name was still being used when naming new streets and housing in the town of Colne.While the final song played by the band is unknown, "Nearer, My God, to Thee" has gained popular acceptance. Former bandmates claimed that Hartley said he would either play "Nearer, My God, to Thee" or "O God, Our Help in Ages Past" if he was ever on a sinking ship, butWalter Lord's book A Night to Remember popularized wireless officerHarold Bride's account of hearing the song "Autumn". It is believed Bride meant either the hymn called "Autumn" or "Songe d'Automne," a popular song at the time.
Hartley was portrayed by Jonathan Evans-Jones in the 1997 blockbuster Titanic.

Pyotr Leshchenko
Pyotr Konstantinovich Leshchenko (Russian: Пётр Константинович Лещенко; 2 June 1898 – 16 July 1954), a singer in the Russian Empire and later the Soviet Union, is universally considered "the King of Russian Tango" and specifically known for his rendition of "Serdtse"—a tango, sung unusually not in Spanish but in Russian. He was born as a citizen of the Russian Empire in Isayevo village of the Kherson Governorate (now part of Odessa Oblast, Ukraine) into a poor and illiterate peasant family. During the First World War, his mother and stepfather moved to Kishinev (Bessarabia Governorate), which was later united with Romania (today's Moldova). He was proficient in numerous languages: Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, German, and others.

In his early childhood, he sang in a church choir and learned how to play the guitar and the balalaika.
After the war, Pyotr, who had never learned a real trade, worked at various restaurants, serving, dish-washing and performing small theatrical acts. He had a soft baritone voice.

After taking some ballet lessons in Paris, he started performing with his Latvian wife Zinaida Zakit, a dancer. Their act was a mixture of ballet, folklore dance and European tango, which was so popular it led to tours to Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Germany and Britain. It was at Riga, when he improvised gypsy music and tango singing to make up for the absence of his pregnant wife, that he discovered he could sing in front of an audience. In 1935, he was at the peak of his success. Though he still included old Russian romances, and even Soviet songs (like "Serdtse", which was originally sung by Leonid Utyosov) in his repertoire, songs were now composed for him exclusively (with the tango songs turning Argentine in style and arrangement). One of his favourite non-Russian composers was Jerzy Petersburski, but he also sang work composed by Pavel German, Konstantin Podrevsky and Isaak Dunayevsky. Composers who composed certain songs specifically for him included Oscar Strok, Mark Maryanovsky and Yefim Sklyarov. Many lyrics of Leshchenko songs were written by Boris Fomin.

Leshchenko performed for European nobles and "White" (anti-Bolshevik) Russian émigrés at his own "Leschenko" cabaret in Bucharest (dubbed the "Eastern Maxim's"). The first part of every performance would typically be dedicated to gipsy music, but during the second part Leshchenko would dress up in a tuxedo, with a white silk handkerchief and sing and dance Argentine tango.

In the Soviet Union his work was banned both because he was believed to be a White émigré (which he was not legally) and because the style (tango and foxtrot) was deemed counter-revolutionary. Nevertheless, secretly he was very popular: people would even listen to Radio Tehran to hear his music, '78 records were smuggled into the country from the Baltics, and specialists would bootleg his music onto "ribs" (used X-ray plates). When during the Second World War and the subsequent occupation of Odessa by the Romanian army, Leshchenko was finally able to perform in the country he still considered his own, people would queue for hours on end to buy a ticket to one of his Odessa concerts. It was at Odessa that Pyotr met his second wife, Vera Georgievna Belousova, for whom he would later, back in Romania, divorce Zinaida.

After Romania switched sides during World War II and the Soviet army came to Romania, Leshchenko was not arrested and became the protégé of general Vladimir Ivanovich Burenin, military commander of the Red Army garrison in Bucharest. Some sources believe this was due to Marshal Georgy Zhukov being a secret admirer of his music - Pyotr probably thought so, and after the War, wrote many letters to friends in the Soviet Union asking them to contact high-level officials so that he and Vera might be allowed back to the country of their birth.

In 1951, a week after receiving an official letter granting them permission to settle in the Soviet Union, Vera and Pyotr were arrested by the Romanian police. Vera was extradited to the Soviet Union (where she was condemned to forced labour for amongst other things, "marrying a foreigner") and Pyotr was sent to a Romanian prison near Bucharest. Both outlived Joseph Stalin, but Pyotr died in a prison hospital in Târgu Ocna on 16 July 1954, without Vera at his side (she had already been released but did not know her husband was still alive). Some friends present when he died claimed his last words were "Friends, I am happy, for I will return to my fatherland! I am going away, but I leave you my heart." Vera died on December 18, 2009, age 86.

In 1981, his 90th birthday was marked by several articles in Soviet newspapers, and several radio shows were dedicated to him at the time.
Notable songs
While most tango dancers around the world only know Serdtse, on special theme evenings and modern CDs) other songs sung by Pyotr Leshchenko may get a mention. They include: the Argentinian Tangos Anikusha, Barselona, Chornye Glaza, Davay Prostimsya, Golubye Glaza, Moyo Poslednee Tango (Strok), Ne Uhodi, Ostansya, Priznaysya Mne, Studentochka, Skazhite Pochemu, Skuchno, Ty I Eta Gitara (both sometimes called "Polish Tangos"), Vernulas Snova Ty, Vino Lyubvi (Maryankovsky) and Zabyt Tebya, the Gypsy Romances Chto Mne Gorye and Za Gitarnyi Perebor and finally the "waltzes" Moy Drug and Pesnya o Kapitane (this last one, like Serdtse, with text written by the Soviet poet Vasily Lebedev-Kumach)

Otha Turner, fife/guitar
b. Jackson, MS, USA.
d. Feb. 26, 2003, Age 94.
Upon his demise, his local newspaper, 'The Commercial Appeal' reported: "Mississippi fife master Otha Turner died on Wednesday. He was 94. Renowned for his picnic parties, Mr. Turner - who played a homemade bamboo cane fife, or wooden flute, and spent much of his life as a sharecropper and subsistence farmer, - was a living link to rural blues and fife-and-drum pre-blues that extended well into the 19th Century. His music was recently featured in Martin Scorsese's Academy Award-nominated film Gangs of New York."
Turner's unique style of fife and drum music has received national accolades and awards, including a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage award, the Smithsonian Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Charlie Patton Lifetime Achievement Award from the Mississippi Delta Blues and Heritage Festival. He has been featured on ABC's "Good Morning Americaâ" and NPR's "All Things Considered"; in The New York Times, The Oxford American, Blues Access, Living Blues; Billboard Magazine; and the French magazine "Vibrations." At the tender age of 90, his first CD, "Everybody's Hollerin' Goat" (Birdman records) was released. Rolling Stone magazine named it one of the top five blues albums of the decade.
Notable Events Occurring
On This Day Include:

Huddie and Martha Ledbetter
Martha Ledbetter (background vocals/guitar. -Huddie "Ledbelly" Ledbetter's wife) dies in Brooklyn, NY, USA. (b. June 19. 1899, Longwood, Texas, USA, d. 1968 New York (Brooklyn), NY, USA. Age: 63. Although her birthday has been documented as being probably 1906, her Social Security information lists this earlier date. (Huddie was born January 20, 1889. near Mooringsport, Louisiana. His birth date has been variously listed  from 1885 to 1889.)
The unique washboard invented,
built and played by Washboard Slim ...
"Washboard Slim" (Robert Young)
died in Philadelphia, PA. at the age of 89.

Adolph Hofner
pioneer Western Swing bandleader
died in San Antonio, TX, USA. 

Talented singer, dancer and comedic actress Imogene Coca died in Westport, Connecticut, USA. (natural causes). Age: 92. (Natural Causes.) née: Imogene Fernandez de Coca (b. Nov. 18, 1908, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA). Imogene Coca - Wikipedia

Songs Recorded/Released
On This Date Include:


L'Orchestre Scrap Iron Jazzerinos
Everybody Shimmies Now


Paul Biese Trio - Chili Bean - incidental singing by Frank Crumit
  • In The Land Of Rice And Tea


Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra - Learn to Smile


All Star Trio and their Orchestra

The Virginians


Waring's Pennsylvanians


Virginia Liston - Make Me A Pallet

The Little Ramblers - Got No Time

Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra - Pal of My Cradle Days


Waring's Pennsylvanians - Any Ice Today, Lady?
  • In A Little Garden (You Made Paradise) Vocal refrain by Tom Waring

Ted Lewis and his Band - Hi - Diddle - Diddle

Ben Selvin and his Orchestra - Hoodle-Dee-Doo-Dee-Doo-Doo


Waring's Pennsylvanians - Just Another Day Wasted Away (Waiting For You)

Ted Lewis and his Band - Alexander's Ragtime Band


Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers - Crazy Chords


© 1920
~Lyrics: Lew Brown; Music: Albert Von Tilzer
~Sheet Music: Broadway Music Corp., New York

In the land of eenie meenie minie mo
Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! not long ago
Lived a girl called Chili, and the fellows loved her so
They loved her so

They loved her do re me fa sol
They wer a lot of little profiteers who came from near and far
They loved the um ta da
She played on her guitar

Ev'ry night in the pale moonlight they gathered 'neath the stars
And as they formed a ring, they all began to sing:

Now this girl called Chili had a lot of dough
Oh! oh! oh! oh! she loved it so
But she was so silly, and she let the fellows know
She let them know

That she had do re me fa sol
When all the little profiteers found out they went to Chili Bean
They said 'From what we've seen
You'd make a dandy queen'

Chili said 'You can go ahead, when do I reign supreme?'
They said 'For what you've got, we'll crown you on the spot

Oh! you lank and lean-y Chili Beanie eenie minie mo
You know we love you so
We love your ja da, um ta da da
Our lives won't be so dreamy if you let us go

You think we're full of blarney
We're full of chili con carne
Chili Bean said 'Boys, I'm grown, I don't know what you mean
You know that I'm so slow
What you want I do not know'

They said 'Now listen Chili dear
Oh by jingo! sent us here
You lank and lean-y Chili beanie
We'll have lots of eenie, meenies
We'll feed them all on weenies, eenie minie mo

(Piantadosi - 1925)
Composer(s): Piantadosi, Al Lyricist(s): Montgomery, Marshall

What a friend, what a pal, only now I can see,
How you dreamed and you planned all for me,
I never knew what a mother goes through,
There's nothing that you didn't do.

Pal of my cradle days, I've needed you always.
Since I was a baby upon your knee,
You sacrificed everything for me.
I stole the gold from your hair.
I put the silver threads there,
I don't know any way I could ever repay,
Pal of my cradle days.

Greatest friend, dearest pal,
It was me who caused you
Every sorrow and heartache you knew,
Your face so fair I have wrinkled with care
I placed every line that is there

~by Richard Whiting & Gus Kahn

I saw the splendor of the moonlight
On Honolulu Bay
There's something tender in the moonlight
On Honolulu Bay

And all the beaches are filled with peaches
Who bring their ukes along
And in the glimmer of the moonlight
They love to sing this song

If you like Ukulele Lady
Ukulele Lady like a'you
If you like to linger where it's shady
Ukulele Lady linger too
If you kiss Ukulele Lady
While you promise ever to be true
And she sees another Ukulele
Lady foolin' 'round with you

Maybe she'll sigh (an awful lot)
Maybe she'll cry (and maybe not)
Maybe she'll find somebody else
By and by
To sing to when it's cool and shady
Where the tricky wicky wacky woo
If you like Ukulele Lady
Ukulele Lady like a'you

She used to sing to me by moonlight
On Honolulu Bay
Fond memories cling to me by moonlight
Although I'm far away

Some day I'm going, where eyes are glowing
And lips are made to kiss
To see somebody in the moonlight
And hear the song I miss

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