Velma Middleton

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Velma Middleton spent most of her career as Louis Armstrong's singer. She was originally a dancer and, although overweight, she often did splits on stage including during the Armstrong years. Middleton…
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Velma Middleton spent most of her career as Louis Armstrong's singer. She was originally a dancer and, although overweight, she often did splits on stage including during the Armstrong years. Middleton had an average but reasonably pleasing and good-humored voice. After freelancing -- including visiting South America in 1938 with Connie McLean's Orchestra and working as a solo act -- she joined Louis Armstrong's big band in 1942, appearing on some Soundies with Satch). After Armstrong broke up the orchestra in 1947, Middleton joined his All-Stars. She was often used for comedy relief (such as for duets with Satch on "That's My Desire" and "Baby, It's Cold Outside") and occasional features. Jazz critics rarely thought highly of Middleton's singing, but Armstrong considered her part of his family, and she was a constant part of his show. Middleton, who recorded eight selections as a leader for the Dootone label in 1948 and 1951, died in Africa while touring with Satch in 1961.