Rosetta Howard is sometimes thought of as a classic blues singer but she actually came up during a slightly later era. Not much is known about her life. Howard began singing professionally in 1932 and she worked in Chicago and later on New York throughout the 1930s with the Harlem Hamfats and individually with Herb Morand and Odell Rand. During 1937-39 and 1947, she recorded 40 selections, proving herself to be a versatile singer able to bridge the gap between classic blues and swing. Her 1937-38 recordings were with the Harlem Hamfats and were reissued on two Document CDs. A CD put out by the Austrian RST label has all of her later recordings. The two 1939 dates are a session with the Harlem Blues Serenaders (which includes Charlie Shavers, Buster Bailey and Lil Armstrong) and one with a quintet that features Henry "Red" Allen and Barney Bigard. Howard performed with a variety of mostly-obscure musicians in Chicago during 1940-46 (other than clarinetist Jimmie Noone) and then in 1947 was featured on 12 interesting recordings with Chicago blues stars of the period including the Big Three (with bassist Willie Dixon) and guitarist Big Bill Broonzy. But although she sounds quite at home in this "modern" setting, the records did not sell (some were not issued at the time) and Rosetta Howard never recorded again. She worked in the 1950s in the religious field with Thomas Dorsey at the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago and slipped away into obscurity. Fortunately all of her recordings are currently available.
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