December 3 marks the 108th anniversary of the incomparable Connie (or Connee) Boswell’s birth, she was born on that day in 1907.
Connie Boswell, the second born of the Boswell Sisters, was born in Kansas City, Missouri, moving with her family to Birmingham, Alabama around 1910, then to New Orleans shortly thereafter. As a young child, she was either involved in a coaster wagon accident or stricken with polio, leaving her completely paralyzed for a short time, and unable to walk properly for the rest of her life, requiring the use of a wheelchair for most of her life. She and her sisters were immersed in the world of music from a very young age, Connie learning to play cello, and later saxophone (she also claimed to be able to play trumpet and “could pick up most any instrument with a little practice”).
Connie began recording with her sisters as a vocal group in 1925, and after a five year hiatus, they returned to recording in 1930. Connie began recording solo in 1931 while still performing with her sisters, and continued to record by herself after the act broke up in 1936. Around 1942, Connie changed the spelling of her name to “Connee”, with potential reasons ranging from it being easier to sign autographs that way to her sister Martha, who studied numerology, telling her it would bring her better luck that way. She continued to sing throughout the 1940s and 1950s, making a few movie and television appearances along the way, before mostly retiring by the beginning of the 1960s. Connie Boswell died of stomach cancer in 1976, a year after her husband’s passing.
Brunswick 20108 was recorded March 16, 1932 in New York City by the Casa Loma Orchestra with Connie singing the vocal on the first side. This twelve inch 78 boasts nearly double the playing time of an ordinary ten inch record, and allows for a more concert-like performance. On these sides, the Casa Loma Orchestra consists of Sonny Dunham, Grady Watts, and Bobby Jones on trumpets, Pee Wee Hunt and Billy Rauch on trombones, Clarence Hutchinrider on clarinet and alto sax, Kenny Sargent and Glen Gray on alto sax, Pat Davis on tenor sax, Mel Jenssen on violin, Joe Hall on piano and celeste, Gene Gifford on banjo and guitar, Stanley Dennis on string bass, and Tony Briglia on drums.
Accompanied by the always outstanding Casa Loma Orchestra, Connie sings a heartfelt rendition of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Washboard Blues”.
On the flip-side, Connie unfortunately does not sing, instead, the Casa Loma Orchestra plays an instrumental, “Four Indian Love Lyrics”, which are “Kashmiri Song”, “Less Than the Dust”, “The Temple Bells”, and “Till I Wake”.
Updated on June 24, 2016.