Jane Gray

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Here's a name that seems too bland to be real and wasn't, although there have actually been performers named Jane Gray including a Christian music artist and a member of a children's choir active in Montana…
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Here's a name that seems too bland to be real and wasn't, although there have actually been performers named Jane Gray including a Christian music artist and a member of a children's choir active in Montana in the '70s. The Jane Gray with the greatest fame in the recording industry never really existed, however. The one with more than two dozen platters released on the Harmony label, the one associated with the song "Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue," that Jane Gray was simply yet another pseudonym for Peggy English, also known as Peggy Britten, also known as Harlem Hannah, also known as Lillie Daltry.

Recording under different names was indeed somewhat rampant in this early stage of the music business. Differences in distribution methods and the types of contracts used made this sort of maneuver necessary as well as common. Still, Gray and all the other names to which she is joined at the lip represent a somewhat overwhelming example of the practice, the recordings of Gray seemingly worth treating as a separate career, at least in the minds of collectors who have brought them forth from large, dusty, used record piles. Researchers who have left blank any and all biographical information in Jane Gray discographies have unwittingly contributed to the fantasy of a real life and career for her, making fans of her recordings believe she was simply a performer that nobody knew anything about, or could find out anything about later on due to her common name.

Her style of recordings would then be the main source of any enlightenment. Often accompanied by the superb pianist Rube Bloom, Gray, also recorded with an outfit called the University Six that at one point featured trombonist Tommy Dorsey.

The Gray surname was often contrasted with song titles themselves -- for example, "Looking at the World Through Rose Colored Glasses" and "Hello Bluebird." The Gray repertoire included other references to nature such as "I'm Tellin' the Birds, I'm Tellin' the Bees," as well as titles as simple as "Say It Again," indicating that at least a few creatures on the food chain were hard of hearing. Optimism abounded in "Everything's Gonna Be Alright," while "Hoosier Sweetheart" and "There Ain't No Land Like Dixieland to Me" represented typical [RoviLink="MA"]novelty

song[/RoviLink] approaches of the era favoring geographical regions. As for the weirdest recording credited to Jane Gray, that would have to be the provocative "I've Never Seen a Straight Banana." A silly line to try on a serious fan of vocal music from the '20s might be "Is that a straight banana in your pocket or just a Jane Gray record?"