Singer and actor Cliff “Ukulele Ike” Edwards was born 126 years ago today. We’ll be featuring his music all day today on Cladrite Radio, so why not tune in now?
The wonderful Judy Garland was born Frances Ethel Gumm 99 years ago today in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. From that humble beginning, she went on to an amazing career that few others have matched.
A friend once asked us, “Why is it that you’re so fond of Judy Garland, but you’re not so crazy about Barbra Streisand?” That was an easy one for us: With Ms. Streisand (with all due respect), it’s all about her pipes. With Ms. Garland, it’s all about her heart.
We’ll be featuring Garland’s music all today on Cladrite Radio. Why not tune in now?
Singer, author, actor and activist Josephine Baker was born 115 years ago today in St. Louis, Missouri. We’ll be featuring her music all day on Cladrite Radio so why not tune in now?
Here are 10 things you should know about Benny Goodman, born 112 years ago today. One of the icons of the swing era, Goodman still inspires folks around the world to cut a rug whenever they hear one of his recordings.
We’re featuring toe-tapping tunes from the King of Swing all day today on Cladrite Radio, so be sure to tune in.
Today marks the 111th anniversary of the birth of one of the giants of big band swing, Artie Shaw.
Born Arthur Jacob Arshawsky in New York City, Shaw, who grew up in New Haven, Connecticut, was said to be a cantankerous, difficult sort of fellow who never really was satisfied with the music he was expected to play. The demands of stardom reined him in. As he put it in a 1994 profile in The New York Times, “I thought that because I was Artie Shaw I could do what I wanted, but all they wanted was ‘Begin the Beguine.'”
Well, heck, yes, we want Begin the Beguine! It’s one of the greatest recordings of the big band era. But we can see how a musician—any artist, really—can begin to feel creatively stifled by the expectations of fans and the press. But it’s sad that Shaw appears to have found little joy in the music he created, the music that has brought so much pleasure to the rest of us.
Heck, even Shaw’s theme song, which he composed, went against the joyful grain that characterized most swing music. It’s called Nightmare, and it is aptly named. Imagine being a swing fan in the late 1930s and getting the chance to take in a show by one of your favorite orchestras and having them open the show with that unsettling number!
Shaw retired repeatedly throughout his career, finally giving up the clarinet for good in 1954 (I wonder if he ever dreamed at the time he would live another half-century), and the reason he offered was his own perfectionism. “In the world we live in, compulsive perfectionists finish last,” Shaw told Michael Freedland in 2001. “You have to be Lawrence Welk, or, on another level, Irving Berlin, and write the same kind of music over and over again. I’m not able to do that.”
Here’s hoping Shaw found some peace in the fifty years he lived mostly apart from music. For the rest of us, we have the many records he left us, which amount to as a great a legacy as virtually any other musician from that era.
We’re featuring Shaw’s music all day today, so why not tune in now?