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SHORE, Dinah: Dinah Shore (1939-1951) (Naxos: 8.120659)



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DINAH SHORE

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 Lecuona’s "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 Can’t 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 Bernie’s orchestra but she really took off with her regular weekly spot on NBC Radio’s ‘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 show’s 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 Cantor’s show ‘Time To Smile’ and by 1942 had her own networked show and had earned the status of America’s leading female vocalist.

By mid-1942 Dinah’s 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 Carmichael—Johnny Mercer standard, at No.5), "You’d 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 "I’ll Walk Alone" (the Oscar-nominated Jule Styne—Sammy 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 MGM’s 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 Heusen’s 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 Dinah’s impressive catalogue of hits of the immediate post-war period were, during 1946, Sammy Gallop’s Shoo-Fly Pie And Apple-Pan Dowdy (No.6, September, 1946), Doin’ What Comes Natur’lly (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 Reid’s 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 Kramer’s Far Away Places charted in the States at No.14 in January, 1949, while Baby, It’s Cold Outside (the Frank Loesser Academy Award Winner from MGM’s Neptune’s 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.

Peter Dempsey

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 Love’s 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.

Disc: 1
Memphis Blues
1 Memphis Blues
I've Got My Eyes On You
2 I've Got My Eyes On You
The Nearness Of You
3 The Nearness Of You
Honeysuckle Rose
4 Honeysuckle Rose
Three Little Sisters
5 Three Little Sisters
Skylark
6 Skylark
Manhattan Serenade
7 Manhattan Serenade
It Could Happen To You
8 It Could Happen To You
Now I Know
9 Now I Know
Counting The Days
10 Counting The Days
Shoo-Fly Pie And Apple-Pan Dowdy
11 Shoo-Fly Pie And Apple-Pan Dowdy
Coax Me A Little Bit
12 Coax Me A Little Bit
Come Rain Or Come Shine
13 Come Rain Or Come Shine
The Gypsy
14 The Gypsy
Doin' What Comes Natur'lly
15 Doin' What Comes Natur'lly
I May Be Wrong, But I Think You're Wonderful
16 I May Be Wrong, But I Think You're Wonderful
A Rainy Night In Rio
17 A Rainy Night In Rio
Far Away Places
18 Far Away Places
Baby, It's Cold Outside
19 Baby, It's Cold Outside
A Thousand Violins
20 A Thousand Violins
The Old Soft Shoe
21 The Old Soft Shoe
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