News for Cladrite Radio Listeners
Here’s some news for those listeners who listen to us via TuneIn: Cladrite Radio is still going strong, but Tunein, a very popular smartphone app, has just announced that it won’t be streaming Radionomy (our streaming provider) stations on its service. It’s a legal snarl we have no role in, as Sony Records is suing Radionomy, and Tunein wants to protect itself (that’s our layman’s interpretation of the situation, in any case).
We’re sorry for the inconvenience, but there are other apps you can use to access our stream, including Radionomy’s own app, Simple Radio, Nobex, Reciva, radio.net and Streema, all of which have mobile apps that are free downloads.
And you can still access Radionomy stations via TuneIn, by manually entering our custom URL into the Custom URL section, but honestly, we think you’ll find it easier to use one of the other apps.
To access our stream within TuneIn, use the following address: http://listen.radionomy.com/cladriteradio
Happy 117th Birthday, Duke Ellington!
Duke Ellington was born Edward Kennedy Ellington 117 years ago today in Washington, D.C. His contributions to music are difficult to overstate: composer, pianist, and, for more than half a century, leader of a great jazz orchestra. And my oh my, was he an elegant man.
Happy birthday, Mr. Ellington, wherever you may be. Thanks for all the wonderful music.
Happy 99th Birthday, Ella Fitzgerald!
By the we got to see her perform, in the 1980s, Ella Fitzgerald, born 99 years ago today in Newport News, Virginia, was the grand dame of jazz who played only the classiest of venues (for example, we saw her perform on two occasions: at Lincoln Center and at Carnegie Hall).
But she didn’t always soar in such rarified air. She began her career as just another girl singer for the Chick Webb Orchestra, singing pop and jazz hits for jitterbuggers in dance halls and ballrooms. Her family was active in the church, so she grew up hearing hymns and sacred songs in that setting, but she also loved listening to jazz records, especially the recordings of Louis Armstrong and the Boswell Sisters (Connee Boswell was a particular favorite).
Fitzgerald’s mother died when she was 15, and Fitzgerald was sent to live with her aunt in Harlem. That didn’t go so well, and Fitzgerald soon became truant at school, her grades soon fell off and she was running with something of a rough crowd. She was sent first to an orphanage and later to a reform school, from which she escaped and took to living (and singing) on the streets.
In 1934, when Fitzgerald was 17, she competed in an amateur night at the legendary Apollo Theatre. Her original intention was to dance on stage, but she decided at the last minute to sing, doing her best Connee Boswell impression in performing “Judy” and “The Object of My Affection.” She won the top prize of $25.00. Soon thereafter, she was given the opportunity to perform with Webb’s orchestra at a dance at Yale University in what was an audition for long-term employment. Webb was skeptical of the gawky and somewhat disheveled Fitzgerald’s suitability for the job, but the Yale students and Webb’s band members both responded positively to her singing, and the job was hers. She and the Webb outfit enjoyed several chart hits and Fitzgerald became a star in her own right, so much so that when Webb passed away in 1939, the orchestra was renamed Ella and her Famous Orchestra.
In 1942, the Webb orchestra disbanded and Fitzgerald went out on her own as a solo artist. She enjoyed a number of hits as the swing era wound down and her scat singing abilities were put to good use during the bebop era. She was now viewed as one of the great jazz vocalists of the day. However, just as Fitzgerald started to feel that she was being restricted by the public’s view of her as a bebop singer, Noman Granz, now her manager, created the Verve label for her and the pair worked together to record The Cole Porter Songbook in 1956.
Over the next eight years, Fitzgerald recorded a series of eight songbooks, each dedicated to a different composer from the era of the Great American Songbook. It was a groundbreaking concept, one that brought Fitzgerald’s music to a new audience. New York Times columnist Frank Rich wrote after Fitzgerald’s death that with the Songbook series, Fitzgerald “performed a cultural transaction as extraordinary as Elvis‘ contemporaneous integration of white and African American soul. Here was a black woman popularizing urban songs often written by immigrant Jews to a national audience of predominantly white Christians.”
The songbooks were Fitzgerald’s greatest accomplishment, but she continued to work and grow as an artist as long as her health allowed it. Her last recordings were undertaken in 1991 and her final public performances came in 1993. When she died on June 15, 1996, Ella Fitzgerald was viewed almost universally as one of the greatest vocalists of the 20th century. Not bad for a kid who once lived on the streets and was considered too ungainly and plain to be a big-band songbird.
Happy birthday, Ms. Fitzgerald, wherever you may be!
Happy 123rd Birthday, Harold Lloyd!
The great Harold Lloyd was born 123 years ago today in Burchard, Nebraska. Though today he’s less remembered by the general public than Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton are, in his day, he was more popular at the box office than either of them, and his pictures hold up very well today. If you ever have a chance to see one of his films in a theatre with a live audience, don’t pass it up. You’ll have a grand time.
Happy birthday, Mr. Lloyd, wherever you may be!
Happy 98th Birthday, Anne Shirley!
We’re tardy by a day, but it’s still worth noting that actress Anne Shirley was born Dawn Evelyeen Paris 98 years ago yesterday in Manhattan. Her father died while she was an infant, and her mother, struggling to provide for her family, turned to her photogenic child, then 16 months, to help pay the bills, making young Dawn available as a photographer’s model.
From there, it was on to motion pictures. Dawn made her feature debut at the age of four and was soon showing enough promise in her film work that she and her mother made the move from New York to Hollywood, where she eventually played female stars of the pictures as young girls, among them Janet Gaynor in 4 Devils (1928), Frances Dee in Rich Man’s Folly (1931) and Barbara Stanwyck in So Big! (1932). She also appeared in a series of short subjects for Vitaphone.
As the years passed, she grew into a lovely young teenager and her roles grew in size and importance. Eventually, she emerged from hundreds who were tested to play the role of Anne Shirley in the 1934 film adaptation of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s classic novel Anne of Green Gables. In the years prior, Dawn had worked primarily under the name of Dawn O’Day, but she now adopted the name of the character that had made her a star, Anne Shirley. (We can think of just one other example of an actor adopting the name of a character he or she played: Byron Barr had been acting for some years under his own name when he was cast in the 1942 film The Gay Sisters as a character named Gig Young; he was known professionally by that name for the rest of his life.)
Anne Shirley kept busy throughout her adolescence, but wasn’t given another truly standout role until, at age 19, she was cast as Barbara Stanwyck’s daughter in Stella Dallas (1937). Both Shirley and Stanwyck were nominated for Oscars for their work in that picture (Best Supporting Actress and Best Leading Actress, respectively), though neither would go on to win.
Shirley was now more in demand than ever, though her career has now entered a “one step forward, one step back” phase, with her films—and the roles she played in them—being of uneven quality. Her heart had never really been in her career—she had stuck with it largely to please her mother—and after appearing opposite Dick Powell in the classic film noir Murder, My Sweet (1944), she retired at age 26, never to return to the screen.
Anne Shirley remained in Hollywood for the rest of her life. She was married three times and had two children. She died on July 4, 1993, at 75.
Happy birthday, Ms. Shirley, wherever you may be!
You think that money is everything,
And yet it's anybody's Spring.
Go make a fortune, become a king
And still it's anybody's Spring.
And if you flash a bank roll
Do you suppose the brook would care?
Or that a rose would say
"There goes a millionaire"?
It's more than diamonds around a ring
Because it's anybody's Spring.
You may be born with the silver spoon
And yet it's anybody's moon.
You couldn't buy a ticket
To hear the first robin sing.
It's free because
It's anybody's Spring
—It's Anybody's Spring
Music: Jimmy Van Heusen; Lyrics: Johnny Burke, 1944