Jane Lucas

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Feisty characters that they are, classic blues zealots have generally come to only one consensus regarding the name Jane Lucas: no such person existed. The Songwriters Hall of Fame, on the other mojo…
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Feisty characters that they are, classic blues zealots have generally come to only one consensus regarding the name Jane Lucas: no such person existed. The Songwriters Hall of Fame, on the other mojo hand, chose to list Lucas alongside major blues performers Big Bill Broonzy and Scrapper Blackwell as collaborators of Georgia Tom Dorsey, subject of a 1997 tribute from the organization. The latter performers are furthermore described as "immortal" in this text. In the case of a Broonzy or Dorsey, this is hyperbole indicating that the fine music they recorded will live forever. In the case of Lucas, a case could be made that an identity that exists only on paper -- utilized by as many as three different performers, maybe more -- would truly live forever, in a sense.

Whatever the conclusion, the Lucas discussion shows no sign of fading away. Some of the tracks involving the Lucas pseudonym have remained in regular circulation on popular compilations of ribald blues as well as sets devoted to prolific recording artists such as the aforementioned Dorsey. A total of four sides were cut with Dorsey accompanied by someone pretending to be named Jane Lucas. These include the hilarious "What's That I Smell," a rare blues dealing with olfactory phenomena, and "Terrible Operation Blues," as amusing an attack on the medical profession as Weird Al Yankovic's much later parody "Like a Surgeon." "Hip Shakin' Strut" and "Hokum Stomp," originally credited to the Hokum Boys and Lucas, feature the mysterious singer as part of an otherwise all-star trio with Dorsey and the great guitarist Big Bill Broonzy. The Lucas name comes up once again on the weary ditty entitled "I Can't Last Long," written and performed by Victoria Spivey, although released under the name of Jane Lucas & the State Street Four with Sweet Peas. Rather than being a side of vegetables, Sweet Peas was the stage name of Addie Spivey, sister of Victoria Spivey. Both sisters have been credited with being Jane Lucas, with the odds favoring the former.

Another classic blues singer, named Mozelle Alderson, is thought to have recorded some of the Lucas pieces; Alderson is also thought to be behind the blues sides of Hannah May and Kansas City Kitty, maybe two or three others as well. Some blues fans even think she is the same person as Addie Spivey. The use of pseudonyms reaches surrealistic proportions with regard to Kansas City Kitty, a recording credit based on a popular pamphlet explaining how to bet the odds based on images recalled from dreams. Praising a duet with Dorsey entitled "How Can You Have the Blues?," one writer describes Kansas City Kitty as "hot stuff" even after admitting the name was being used by "...an otherwise anonymous blues singer...and my bet is solidly on Lucas."