Irene Reid

Irene Reid, a Savannah, GA native, began singing in church. She was born in Savannah on September 23, 1930. She attended the Alfred E. Beach/Cuyler high school. Peter Smalls, her teacher in vocal music, taught her. She sang in Savannah’s high school and church in her early years. It was not uncommon for her to sing in public places. The idea of becoming a blues- or jazz singer came later. In 1947, her mother died. She moved to New York City with her aunt. She won the Apollo Theater Amateur contest in the same year. Later, she was featured singer with Dick Vance at Savoy Ballroom between 1948-1950. In 1961-1962 she was the featured singer in the legendary band of pianist Count Basie. She also made numerous European tours with the group. She returned to her hometown in 1961 to perform at the municipal auditorium with Basie. Reid shared the stage with Aretha Franklin and Sarah Vaughan during her time with Basie’s group. King, among others. In 1991, 1994, 1996, she performed at the Savannah Jazz Festival. She recorded two big-band albums for Verve Records in the 1960s: Room for One More in 1965 and It’s Too Late 1966. In the post-Basie era, her most prominent job was on Broadway where she was part of The Wiz. She was emerging from a period in the limelight by the late ’80s and performed at a remote broadcast of WBGO-FM, Newark jazz station, Citicorp Center, Manhattan. This was her first step towards a career revival, which she continued to enjoy with the Manhattan-based Savant Records label. Reid died on January 4, 2008. However, any of the six albums she recorded for Savant Records show how well she mixed blues and jazz live and on record. Million Dollar Secret (1997) and I Ain’t Don’t Doin’ To Bad (1999), Movin’ Out(1999), Uptown Lowdown (2000). They also include Thanks to You (2004). She recorded at Savant with Bobby Forrester, a Hammond B-3 organist/producer who frequently performed with Ruth Brown, as well as Charles “The Mighty Burner”, Earland. Allmusic

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