SHORE, Dinah: Dinah Shore (1939-1951) (Naxos: 8.120659)
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Original Recordings 1939-1951
Dinah Shore is nowadays probably best remembered as the charming, blonde Southerner who in her later years hosted primetime variety and daytime talk shows on American TV, but from her earliest career she was also a shining example of a new kind of singing all-rounder and rated among the top female vocalists of her day who, between 1940 and 1957, produced a steady stream of eighty-odd chart hits. Dinah was born Frances Rose Shore to Russian Jewish immigrant parents Solomon and Anna Stein Shore, in Winchester, Tennessee, on 29 February, 1916, but spent her youth in Nashville where her father ran a dry goods store. As a child she fought a long but ultimately successful battle against polio and, encouraged by her mother (herself a contralto with frustrated operatic aspirations), appeared both as chorister and soloist under the name of Fanny Rose Shore. Largely self-taught in music, she sang well and also became a competent ukelele player. Keenly interested in amateur dramatics, she made her first night-club appearance at fourteen.
Dinah studied sociology at Vanderbilt University (she graduated in 1938), but carried on singing in her spare time and in 1936 was a guest on the local WSM Radio. Determined to make a career in entertainment, she ventured to New York where she auditioned for both dance orchestras and radio, taking the name Dinah from the 1925 Harry Akst standard. Hired in 1939 by Xavier Cugat as his vocalist at the prestigious Waldorf-Astoria, she eventually recorded various hits with the Latin-American bandleader, notably Lecuonas "The Breeze And I", which charted at No.13 in the States in August 1940. On the strength of this success, the Victor company soon offered Dinah her own contract, on their Bluebird label, and other hits quickly followed, beginning in 1940 with "You Cant Brush Me Off" (a duet with Dick Todd) and "Yes, My Darling Daughter", her first solo, at No.10.
In 1939 Dinah was signed by CBS Radio to sing with Ben Bernies orchestra but she really took off with her regular weekly spot on NBC Radios Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street, a Sunday afternoon avant-garde jazz show devised by NBC staff-producer Henry Hot Lips Levine. Networked coast-to-coast and styled on the classical broadcast format this featured the likes of John Kirby, Maxine Sullivan, Sidney Bechet, Jelly Roll Morton and the young Lena Horne. The hitherto unknown Dinah became the shows resident vocalist and, by the end of the year had become, via radio, records and juke-boxes, a household name. Also in 1940 and through 1941 she appeared regularly on Eddie Cantors show Time To Smile and by 1942 had her own networked show and had earned the status of Americas leading female vocalist.
By mid-1942 Dinahs contract with RCA Victor had given her scope to record songs in a wide range of moods, many of which made the US Top 30. While her list of hits offered even a vocal arrangement of Eric Coates "Sleepy Lagoon", pre-1945 it included Skylark (a 1942 Hoagy CarmichaelJohnny Mercer standard, at No.5), "Youd Be So Nice To Come Home To" (A No.3 in 1943) and, in 1944, "Blues In The Night" (a No.4 in 1944, and her first Golden Disc) and "Ill Walk Alone" (the Oscar-nominated Jule StyneSammy Cahn song she introduced in the Universal morale-booster Follow The Boys, and her first No.1). By 1943 Dinah had signed to host her own CBS radio show, Call To Music and that same year made her movie début, a cameo in the star-studded Warner morale-booster Thank Your Lucky Stars. In MGMs 1944 sequel Up In Arms she introduced the Oscar-nominated Harold Arlen song Now I Know and went on to further screen appearances in Belle Of The Yukon (International, 1945 in this she introduced Jimmy Van Heusens Oscar-nominated "Sleigh Ride In July") and Till The Clouds Roll By (the 1946 MGM biopic of Jerome Kern). However, even at this stage in her career Dinah had probably already decided her preferred habitat was radio and live performance. To aid the war effort, she sang many Command Performances for the US armed forces radio network and, alongside Crosby, Hope and others, became a favourite with troops stationed in Europe. In France a bridge was even named after her.
Prominent among Dinahs impressive catalogue of hits of the immediate post-war period were, during 1946, Sammy Gallops Shoo-Fly Pie And Apple-Pan Dowdy (No.6, September, 1946), Doin What Comes Naturlly (a No.3 version of the song created by Ethel Merman in Annie, Get Your Gun) and an eight-week No.1 version of Billy Reids The Gypsy (also a No.1 and a Golden Disc in a famous version by the Ink Spots, this was the first popular song written by an Englishman ever to sell a million in the USA). Recorded in London during a 1947 visit, her atmospheric record of Joan Whitney and Alex Kramers Far Away Places charted in the States at No.14 in January, 1949, while Baby, Its Cold Outside (the Frank Loesser Academy Award Winner from MGMs Neptunes Daughter) became a US No.4 in this duet version with Buddy Clark.
Dinah Shore died in Beverly Hills, California, on 24 February, 1994.
Peter Dempsey, 2003
The Naxos Historical labels aim to make available the greatest recordings of the history of recorded music, in the best and truest sound that contemporary technology can provide. To achieve this aim, Naxos has engaged a number of respected restorers who have the dedication, skill and experience to produce restorations that have set new standards in the field of historical recordings.
A tenor singer of wide range and performing experience, Peter Dempsey specialises in Victorian and Edwardian genre ballads and art-song, and has recorded various CDs, including Loves Garden Of Roses for Moidart. Quite apart from his personal enthusiasm for music in the broadest sense, through his assiduous collecting and study of 78s over many years, Peter has acquired not only a wide knowledge of recorded musical performance but also a heartfelt awareness of the need to conserve so many "great masters" who were it not for CD might now be lost for future generations. A recognised authority on old recordings, Peter now regularly researches and produces CD albums from 78s.