Easter Greetings

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Wishing all my readers a very happy and peaceful Easter!

Usually around Easter, it’s time to start the outside actvities, getting the garden chairs in order and such. This year here in Norway, winter still got a hold on us – and outside right now we have -11 degrees C, and all the fields are still draped in a heavy white blanket…

At least we can stay inside, reading good books, listen to music and watch old films on TV – with a clean conscience. Outside fun will have to wait a little longer!

 

I hope your Easter is a nice, relaxed one – and that these days off serve whatever purpose you need them to be. Stay tuned, more musical musings to come on this site soon!

Happy Easter!

 

 

Damita Jo DeBlanc – spotlight on a forgotten treasure

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Damita Jo was a bright and bubbly addition to the girl singers of the 50s and 60s. Dipping her toes into different musical water, Damita Jo could sing anything from country to nightclub jazz and she did quite a lot of dance craze tunes as well.

A look into her albums and career coming soon on this site.

The lovely Damita Jo, 60s publicity photo

 

Betty Wright – Music for all the (W)right moments

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Let’s just get one thing straight: Betty Wright is great, she is just plain awesome! Topic not open to discussion…

Since Betty appeared on the musical scene in the mid-1960s, she has carved out a niche all of her own in popular music. She writes music, lyrics, she produces, arranges and most importantly – she sings. As a singer she can be regarded as a soul singer, a pop singer, for a brief time she was a disco singer…. Her lyrics deal with anything from love via love gone really bad to social injustice and abuse, sometimes she even preaches on record. But whatever her message might be, all of it is performed with a voice that is one of the most stunning instruments to ever pop up in the history of music.

Betty Wright, photo from 1975

Coming soon: a closer look at the fabulously talented Miss Betty Wright, and my views on most of her musical legacy from the 1960s and up until today….

2018 actually marks the 50th anniversary of Betty Wrights break-trough as a recording artist; Her first tracks, “Thank you, baby” and “Paralyzed” were both local hits in her native Miami way back in 1965, when Betty was all of 12 years old! But Betty’s first album, “My First Time Around” came out 1968, the cover showing off a pretty young girl of 15, wearing a fancy hairdo and a knowing smile. The music was quite a revelation also….

More about Betty Wright soon to appear on this site!

 

 

 

Merry Christmas to all of you

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Once again the Christmas days are here, hopefully we can all relax and enjoy some peaceful, seasonal time – and if you are like me, music will be an essential part of it.

They say the Norwegians have a special fondness for Christmas music, and that may be true. The market here for Christmas records is seemingly endless…

For me, however, my choice of Christmas music are older, American records – made the classic great vocalists. I cannot seem to get into the right spirit without those records, and they come into my play list every year. In no particular order – my personal favorites are:

  • Connie Francis: Christmas In My Heart
  • Christmas with Helen O´Connell
  • June Christy: This Time of Year
  • Jo Stafford: Happy Holidays – I Love The Winter Weather
  • Christmas Day with Kitty Wells
  • Greetings from The McGuire Sisters
  • Kate Smith X-mas Album
  • Merry Christmas from Dinah Shore
  • …with possible additions: the seasonal albums from Frank Sinatra, Patti La Belle, Jessica Simpson and Mariah Carey

That´s my personal recommendations for you. Enjoy your Christmas – enjoy the music!

More musical updates to come in 2018.

Wishing you all GOD JUL – a very merry Christmas

 

 

Rest in peace, Della Reese

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“Touched by an angel” was a popular TV series starring Della Reese, but to me – it was her music that truly touched me. On Sunday 19 November, Della died at the age of 86 and I suspect she turned into an angel for real…

Della Reese was born July 6 1931, started out as a gospel singer and made her first (gospel) record in 1953. From 1957 and for the next 20 years, Della put out a long line of great albums that for the most part had her steeped in the tradition of the classic pop singer. Always a great interpreter of songs from the great American songbook, she also managed to stretch out into semi-classical stuff, blues, big band, soulful material, straight pop and an occasional touch of country.

Della Reese – photo from the 1950s

 

Her deep, soulful alto voice was well suited to any kind of material, and she displayed a lot of verve and personality on uptempo numbers, whether bluesy or imbued with the right amount of gospel fervor. Della the ballad singer could sing or soft or strong – but she always managed to wring the last drop of emotion out of every single syllable.

 

Della Reese in the late 1960s

 

On her 1967 album “On Strings of Blue“, she also embraced songs and songwriters of modern-day pop, including Burt Bacharachs “A House is not a home”. If you’re looking for Della the “modern” pop singer, all her 1970s albums are highly recommended: “Black Is Beautiful” (1970), “Right Now” (1972), “Let Me In Your Life” (1974), “One Of A Kind” (1978). Another favorite of mine is her lone 1977 single on Brunswick, “Nothing But A True Love”.

In addition to being a singer, she was also a TV Talk Show hostess, a big Las Vegas attraction, actress and an ordained Minister. She guested in a long string of TV shows and series – sometimes singing, sometimes just acting. Then in the 1990s, she took on the part of Tess in “Touched By an Angel” – the acting part for which she is best known.

Della in the mid-90s, when she starred in “Touched By an Angel”

 

For more than 60 years, the great Miss Reese has touched various parts of the entertainment business with her voice, talent and personality, in her very own and very unique way. As a singer who was able to transform every human emotion possible into great music, she most certainly touched me.

 

Della photographed in her later years

 

 

Bear Family records – a treasure chest for music lovers

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The German record company Bear Family specializes in re-issues – and thus a lot of us collectors can find some truly exciting stuff!

In my last post on this site, I wrote about Peggy March – an American singer who had a vast record production in Germany. Bear Family has released three CD’s with Peggy – basically containing each and every song she recorded in Germany 1962-72 (she also continued working there for many years after that).

Bear Family records also made me aware of the many Scandinavian girls who had long-lasting careers in Germany, and they have made many really great collections of these recordings.

Below you see some of the “Scandi-girls” packages that are on the market – Norwegian and Swedish legendary singers, performing material that for the most part is not that well-known in their native countries.

Anita Lindblom was dubbed “Die Schwedische Sex Katze”, due to her sensual, alluring voice

 

Long considered one of Norways finest singers – Kirsti Sparboe was hot stuff in Germany also

 

Barbo “Lill Babs” Svensson was tremendously popular in Germany in the early 60’s!

 

Ann-Louise Hanson, one of the most beautiful voices from Sweden

 

Anna-Lena Löfgren made records in Germany from 1962 up until 2005

 

The above are just a few examples – Scandinavia also – at various points – exported Bibi Johns, Wencke Myhre, Vivi Bach, Gitte Hænning, Alice Babs, Laila Kinnunen, Stein Ingebrigtsen, Agnetha Fältskog, Siw Malmkvist, Benny Borg and Sylvia Vrethammar. They all made several records in Germany (singing in German)

Coming up in the next month or so: A closer look at these singers, and what it was that made them so popular in Germany. Stay tuned in November also!

3 great girls – who made it big in Germany

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German pop music is almost a category of its own. A lot of it is named “schlager” and is mostly commercial pop music with a distinct beat, often also quite march-like.  German music industry is really big business, and in addition to all the great native singers – they have also made “German music stars” out of a lot of foreign singers who otherwise have separate careers in their native countries.

This video is a great example – three girls from three different countries, who for several decades have been really big stars in Germany: Lithuanian Lena Valaitis (born 1943), British Ireen Sheer (born 1949) and American Peggy March (born 1948). In 2013 these three great singers got together on a German TV-show, to sing a dynamite medley of hits from the 60’s. The respective ages then spanned from 64 to 70, but they are all proof that talent is ageless. Lena (dressed in red), Ireen (dressed in brown) and the fabulous Peggy (dressed in silver) sure show you how to-do-it!

 

 

Peggy March was just 15 back in the early 60’s when she topped the US charts with “I Will Follow Him”. She is sometimes referred to as a One Hit Wonder, but that is all wrong; Peggy just relocated to Germany and has released an incredible amount of records there since 1963. The video below was recorded in 2013 also – and shows Peggy doing a brand new version of her old hit – and for once, the new version favourably compares to the original! This is one great lady whose looks and voice remain untouched by time!

 

 

Germany also gave Connie Francis a lengthy career there (making German records from 1960 up to 1992), and then there are all the great Scandinavian girl singers who had German careers: Siw Malmkvist, Wencke Myhre, Lill-Babs, Anna Lena Löfgren, Ann-Louise Hansson, Kirsti Sparboe, Anita Lindblom, Gitte Hænning, Dorthe Kollo….

Seems like I have to get back to the theme of foreign girls in German pop music in another post on this site. For now – enjoy Peggy and the others, and please note that these are not rare, comeback performances – these are girl singers at work in a country you might not have known they were working in!

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