Lena Wilson

Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Vol. 1 (1922-24)

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Aside from six titles which proved impossible to locate, Lena Wilson's complete recorded works were reissued by Document at the close of the 20th century. Volume 1 contains 23 selections dating from the years 1922-1924. These constitute the primary recordings from her most productive period of professional activity. Lena Wilson was born in Charlotte, NC in 1898. Her adoptive brother, conservatory trained pianist Danny Wilson, married Edith Goodall who was destined for international fame as jazz singer Edith Wilson. (Dan Wilson is remembered for having collaborated with lyricist Andy Razaf and was the composer of "How Could I Be Blue?" and "Mama Stayed Out All Night Long.") Forming a vaudeville trio, the three began working on the T.O.B.A. circuit in 1918 and subsequently landed in New York City. Wilson gradually developed into a solo act and in September of 1922 she made her first record, for the Black Swan label. The quintet backing her on the date was billed as "the Jazz Masters," and may have been led by either pianist Fletcher Henderson or cornetist Thomas Morris. Beginning with her Pathe session of January 31, 1923, over the course of 14 months, this singer recorded for eight different labels, backed by the Nubian Five (almost certainly a white dance band); Perry Bradford's Jazz Phools; cornetist Johnny Dunn; her own Jazz Hounds; Fletcher Henderson's Orchestra, and, on the Hawaiian-flavored "Hula Blues" and "Four Flushin' Papa (You've Gotta Play Straight With Me)" by steel guitarist Lincoln M. Conaway & His Rag Pickers. Other delights are the "Michigan Water Blues" and two songs associated with Thomas Fats Waller: "Tain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do" and "Your Time Now (T'will Be Mine After a While)." Wilson later married violinist Ralph "Shrimp" Jones.

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