Viola Gertrude Wells

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While Herman Lubinsky's Savoy label is remembered for having recorded such bebop giants as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie at their peak, the Newark, NJ-based company also recorded a number of hometown…
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While Herman Lubinsky's Savoy label is remembered for having recorded such bebop giants as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie at their peak, the Newark, NJ-based company also recorded a number of hometown musicians in the 1940s, one of them being Viola "Miss Rhapsody" Wells. Wells' first gig was at the Minis Theater in Newark; she worked with traveling shows in the '20s and a certain Banjo Bernie's Band in the '30s before going on the road with singer Ida Cox. In the late '30s, Wells moved to Kansas City, where she ran a nightclub and led her own band. She moved back to Newark and became active on the New York scene during the '40s, singing at various clubs and theaters, including Kelly's Stables and the Apollo (sometimes performing under the name Viola Underhill). Her career ebbed, then revived in the mid-'60s. In the '70s she toured with trombonist/singer Clyde Bernhardt's band.