Anne Graham

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When big bands were at their height of popularity, the full extravaganza required of such an outfit included both a male and female vocalist, sometimes a whole vocal group. The resulting job opportunities…
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When big bands were at their height of popularity, the full extravaganza required of such an outfit included both a male and female vocalist, sometimes a whole vocal group. The resulting job opportunities meant that just about any professional singer who could handle anything closely resembling jazz phrasing, and some that couldn't, found work with name big bands. Which is where listeners come across Anne Graham, one of a number of female singers hired by that roughest of taskmasters, clarinetist Benny Goodman. There were enough of such singers that a a record label felt the title Benny's Girls: Goodman's Rare Songbirds was statistically valid for a compilation.

Rare, yes, because these are not the big band vocalists that fans tend to have heard of, although in fairness to Anne Graham it has to be said she is no more obscure than any of the singers that preceded or followed her, a list that includes both Dottie Reid and Nancy Reed, Liza Morrow and Jane Harvey, Louise Tobin and Eve Young. While Goodman made many demands on his singers, at times tormenting them with key changes, at least he didn't demand they come up with stage-names in which the initials matched, a gimmick in other big bands between the '30s and the '50s. This Anne Graham should not be confused with any of the gospel performers with the same name.