Judy Canova

Ozark Nightingale

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Even though she is not as well-known as many of her vocal contemporaries, those who might have crossed paths with Judy Canova aren't likely to forget her. Not only was she a remarkably gifted singer, but also an actress whose flawless comedic timing was her calling card. As precious little of her sides have been issued on compact disc, Ozark Nightingale (2004) is as definitive a statement as exists for a modern audience. While still a pre-teen, Canova was one-third of the minstrelesque Three Georgia Crackers song and dance act with her brother and sister. Her natural penchant for wisecracks coupled with a boisterous persona and lanky presence eventually led her to the attention of Warner Brothers Studios where she was cast in a number of films. Canova likewise made several Broadway appearances, which included work with Busby Berkeley and in the Ziegfeld Follies on the Great White Way. The 14 selections on this compilation are from radio programs circa the early- to mid-'40s. Although not explicitly stated, presumably some of these are from her CBS Radio comedy series, as she mixes undeniably homespun humor with unique, if not novel interpretations of popular standards and seminal country & western material. Canova also did her part for Uncle Sam during World War II, participating in the Armed Forces Radio Service shows Command Performance, Mail Call and specials such as the November 26, 1942 Elgin Thanksgiving Tribute to Our Armed Forces broadcast. She warbles away memorable renderings of "Too Late to Worry," "Walking the Floor Over You," "Put Your Arms Around Me Honey" and interjects zingers and rural colloquialisms between the lines of "Just Because" and "I Can't Give You Anything but Love." Her unusual yodeling technique is impressive as she displays seemingly perfect pitch on "Stuff Like That There," and her talent is all the more striking on her straight reading of "Along the Navajo Trail." As the contents of Ozark Nightingale are taken from numerous sources, the audio quality varies a bit from track to track, but the entire CD is thoroughly listenable and highly recommended.

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