CELEBRATING THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF
"RECORD OF THE WEEK" (5/10/97 - 5/10/17)
SPOTLIGHT ON SAVANNAH CHURCHILL PART TWO
SPOTLIGHT ON SAVANNAH CHURCHILL PART TWO
"I'll Never Belong To Anyone Else"
"The Best Of Friends"/"The Things You Do To Me"
Above: Savannah Churchill.
BROOKLYN EAGLE, December 18, 1949:
If it hadn't been for a stroke of ill fortune, Savannah Churchill, the sultry thrush now at Cafe Society, might never have gotten into the world of show business. Although she did a lot of singing in Brooklyn as a child, and showed unusual prowess, Savannah was content to leave the entertaining to those who would forsake the delights of home life and friendly neighbors. Savannah married and started on a family. Children were to be her hobby.
But her husband died (result of a car accident) after the second youngster was born, and casting about for a way out of her financial dilemma, she took the long gamblea singing career.
Savannah came to Brooklyn with her family when she was six. She was enrolled in St. Peter Claver, a Catholic school (it was at the church of the same name where her vocal ability first attracted attention. She joined the choir, but in a very short period was given solo roles). The singer went through Girls High here, and then entered N.Y.U. Halfway through her first semester, she married and switched from school to homemaking chores.
EBONY MAGAZINE, February 1953 (Part One):
From a waitress at Lorette's restaurant in Harlem, Savannah Churchill moved across the street into Smalls Paradise and her first job as a singer. That was 1937, a year after she had dropped out of New York University following her marriage to a school sweetheart, Arthur Churchill.
When she auditioned for owner Ed Smalls, he eyed her critically and said, "Baby, you can't sing much but you ain't bad to look at. With experience you might improve, so I'll give you a job." The job paid $18 a week, but it was the start of a professional career that has carried her into such lush spots as Ciro's in Hollywood, the Thunderbird in Las Vegas and the Barbary Coast in San Francisco.
Born in New Orleans, her parents migrated to New York and settled in Brooklyn when Savannah was three. Her first husband, an Ohio lawyer, was killed in an auto accident in 1938. Home is now a three-story ten-room frame house in Brooklyn which is all her own. It is where she plans to retire when she quits singing. The town means much to her. "I love Brooklyn," she says. "I was reared there and know it like I know the palm of my hand. The place has a whole lot of sentimental value for me."
EBONY MAGAZINE, February 1953 (Part Two):
Billed far and wide by the flourishing Gale Agency as "the sultry siren of song," Savannah Churchill is one of America's great ballad singers. She sings her songs simply and with remarkable fidelity to the written tune. She does not go in for fancy deviations or fluent impressions. "I'm no stylist," she says. "I stick to the melody always."
It is the warmth of her voice and the richness and strength with which she sings her songs that has made her unusual. But her very wide repertoire shows a musical versatility few singers possess today. She is fully at home doing torch songs like "Is It Too Late?," "I'll Never Be Free" and "I Want To Cry." ....She sings "Daddy Daddy," her 1947 [sic] record hit with enormous gusto. But it is "I Want To Be Loved" that is most requested by her audiences. This song, which brought about her regeneration in show business, has now become her unofficial theme song.
When "I Want To Be Loved," a hit tune, came out in 1948 [sic], Savannah was on the verge of quitting show business. Bookings for her were few and far between, and as a result her morale had sunk to a new low. "The record put me back in show business," she admits. "At that time the breaks seemed to be going against me. I was pretty disgusted." The record and the demand it created for her catapulted her from a previous high salary of $300 a week in 1944, to a peak of $1750 weekly in 1951.
Her early years in the singing field were dominated in a way by Benny Carter, one of the top jazzmen of them all. She was the vocalist with the Carter band for four years. During that time a lot of the celebrated Carter musicianship rubbed off on her and she became a vastly improved singer. She and Benny became engaged but later agreed to call it off after a few disagreements. She still adores him for his tremendous talents and he considers her his best protege.
When she left Benny Carter, she felt she was ready to go for herself. "I think I've been a little lucky," she modestly reports. "After all, I trained with one of the masters of modern music, Benny Carter." Last September she had the thrill of making a recording session with the musician she most admires. Carter played alto sax in the background as she sang new arrangements of "Walking By The River" and "I'm The Greatest Sinner Of Them All." She thinks they are the finest records she has ever made.
(NOTE: "Walking By The River" was released on RCA Victor 20-5031 in 1952. "I'm The Greatest..." was not released. And, yes, there are inconsistencies and errors in the above articles.)
From the Pottstown Mercury [Pennsylvania] dated 8/28/48
From Jet Magazine Feb 1952
Cash Box Reviews dated 10/9/48 and 11/18/48 respectively.
It is almost as if these adoring reviews were supplied by Savannah's promotional agent.
SAVANNAH CHURCHILL PHOTOS: [FROM HANS-JOACHIM KROHBERGER]
Savannah With George Gaines (Pittsburgh, August 4, 1947)
Savannah At Syria Mosque for "Night of Stars" (Pittsburgh, August 4, 1947)
Savannah Taking A Break (1950)
Savannah On Stage (1950)
EXTRA AUDIO (Windows Media Player):
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
Savannah With The Striders (L-R) Al Martin, Eugene Strider, Savannah, Charles Strider, and James Strider.
Click HERE for an article about The Striders by Marv Goldberg. (Will open in a separate window)
Above: From Cash Box dated 7/15/50.
Left: From Cash Box dated 8/19/50.
Above Top Left is label image for Arco 1259 released in July 1950. "Her Group" on this record is The Striders. "Can Anyone Explain?" is my favorite side by Savannah.
The Cash Box Review (8/5/50):SAVANNAH CHURCHILL ARCO 1259.... Can Anyone Explain/The Devil Sat Down And Cried
Here is one of those extreme rarities among recordsa disk that can do equally as well in a "jazz and blues" spot or in a "pop" location. Ops will find that this waxing is a money-in-the-bank selection for any juke box on their route. "Can Anyone Explain" is going to be a smash hit and Savannah Churchill will capture her share of the loot with this excellent rendition. The reverse is a standard that gets an irresistable clap-hands arrangement and send off by the thrush and her group. Opsthis one is a must
Listen to "Can Anyone Explain? (No, No, No)" - Savannah Churchill And Her Group - Arco 1259-A - 1950.
Listen to "The Devil Sat Down And Cried" - Savannah Churchill And Her Group - Arco 1259-B - 1950.
BOTH played in sequence.
THE CASH BOX, October 22, 1949: NEWARK, N.J.Arco Records Inc., this city, this past week made their bow into the disk business with a roster of top recordings in the jazz and spiritual field.
The new label, who will also handle the distribution of Manor Records, is currently engaged in setting up national distribution.
Spokesman for the record firm declared, "Every release on Arco will be hand picked." Those associated with Arco have thorough knowledge of the field and a wide range of experience in selecting jazz and spiritual songs.
Included in the first Arco release is a new Savannah Churchill recording titled "I'll Never Be Free" and "Get Yourself Another Guy." Platter has already created initial heavy orders for the Arco firm.
(NOTE: As Arco was actually a new name for Manor Records, "those associated with Arco" certainly would have knowledge and experience in the field. And the hand-picking would certainly be by Irving Berman, head of Manor and Arco, whose name was not mentioned in the column.)
Above: (Left) Savannah picture from the Pittsburgh Courier dated 11/1/47. (Right) Label image of Manor 1142 A released in October 1948, but recorded in 1947.
The Billboard Review (11/6/48):SAVANNAH CHURCHILL AND THE FOUR TUNES MANOR 1142....
I'll Never Belong To Anyone Else (84) First-rate Churchill piping with Tunes backing should make this side a substantial coin grabber.
(NOTE: A ratings range of 80-89 was considered "excellent.")
Above: Label images of Columbia 30146 released in November 1948. These two sides were procured from Manor Records.
THE CASH BOX, November 6, 1948: NEW YORKColumbia Records Inc., this past week continued the major plattery idea of buying potential indie hits with the purchase of several sides from Manor Record Co.
Included in the deal were two sides by Savannah Churchill and two by The Four Tunes. Idea behind the purchase was of course to head off a potential indie disk hit and put it out under the Columbia banner.
It was reported that Manor had obtained some royalty rights in addition to an advance.
(NOTE: The two sides by The Four Tunes are "Take My Lonely Heart" and "Where Is My Love" released on Columbia 30145. The latter song had previously been released on Manor 1077-A in 1947. The other three mentioned sides had no prior releases.)
The Billboard Review (1/1/49):SAVANNAH CHURCHILL AND THE FOUR TUNES COLUMBIA 30146....
The Best Of Friends (78) Tune, which is more a pop item than a race ditty, draws a fine vocal from Churchill.
The Things You Do To Me (71) More of the same, save that the song hasn't the quality of the item on the topside.
(NOTE: A ratings range of 70-79 was considered "good.")
Visit "SAVANNAH CHURCHILL DISCOGRAPHY" for a full listing of her recordings.
Listen to this week's selections featuring Savannah Churchill And The Four Tunes on Manor and Columbia from 1948:
[Audio restoration by Dave Saviet.]
[To download audio files, right-click on link and then select "Save (Link) Target As..."]
A. Stream RealAudio...
1. I'll Never Belong To Anyone Else
2. The Best Of Friends
3. The Things You Do To Me
ALL THREE played in sequence
Also enjoy SPOTLIGHT ON SAVANNAH CHURCHILL - PART ONE PART THREE PART FOUR
(Above links will open in separate windows)
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