Sippie Wallace

Sippie Wallace, born Beulah Thomas on November 1, 1898 and died November 1, 1986. She was an American singer-songwriter. She was known as “The Texas Nightingale” for her early work in tent shows. She recorded 40 songs for Okeh Records between 1923-1927. Many of them were written by her or her brothers George and Hersal. Clarence Williams, Sidney Bechet and Johnny Dodds were her accompanists. Wallace was among the most prominent female blues singers of her time, along with Ida Cox and Alberta Hunter. She left show business in the 1930s to become a Detroit church organist, singer and choir director. She performed only occasionally until the 1960s when she returned to music. Wallace was nominated in 1982 for the Grammy Award and inducted into Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame 1993. Wallace was one of thirteen children born in Houston, Texas. Wallace was an active singer and pianist in her youth at Shiloh Baptist Church. Her father was a deacon. In the evenings, the children would sneak out to tent shows. They were already playing in the tent shows by her twenties. She gained a loyal following as a blues singer and performer at Texas shows. Wallace was raised in a musical family. Her brother George W. Thomas was a well-known pianist, bandleader and composer. Her other brother Hersal Thomas was also a composer and pianist. Her niece, George’s daughter, Hociel Thomas, was a composer and pianist. Wallace was able to get into Chicago’s jazz scene by following her brothers in 1923. In 1923, Okeh Records signed Wallace to a recording contract. Wallace’s first recordings, “Shorty George”, and “Up the Country Blues”, were recorded with her brother George. They sold well enough that Wallace became a blues legend in the 1920s. The success of other recordings, such as “Special Delivery Blues”, which was recorded with Louis Armstrong, “Bedroom Blues”, (written by George Thomas and Hersal Thomas), “I’m a Mighty Tight Woman” and “Bedroom Blues,” were also followed. Hersal, her younger brother, died in 1926 from food poisoning. Wallace immigrated to Detroit in 1929. In 1936, her husband Matt and her brother George died. Wallace was an organ player and singer at Leland Baptist Church in Detroit for 40 years. Mercury Records released “Bedroom Blues” again in 1945. Wallace never performed or recorded in blues, except for occasional performances. Her long-time friend Victoria Spivey encouraged her to return to the folk and blues festival circuit in 1966. On Halloween night in Copenhagen, Denmark, Wallace recorded an album with Roosevelt Sykes, Little Brother Montgomery, and the piano was shared by Montgomery. Sings the Blues is another 1966 album. Wallace was accompanied on piano by Little Brother Montgomery or Roosevelt Sykes for the latter song. Included is Wallace’s signature song “Women Be Wise”, and “Don’t Advertise your Man”. Bonnie Raitt, a blues-pop singer, was inspired by the album to start playing the blues in late 1960. Bonnie Raitt’s 1971 self-titled album Bonnie Raitt featured a recording of Sippie Wallace’s “Women Be Wise”. Wallace performed on her own while Raitt toured with her in the 1970s. The bonds formed between Wallace and Raitt helped to bridge the gap between two generations. Louis Armstrong and the Blues Singers (1966): Wallace recorded “A Jealous Woman Like Me”, “Jack O’Diamond Blues”, “Special Delivery Blues”, and “The Mail Train Blues”. Wallace recorded an album of blues standards together with Victoria Spivey called Sippie Wallace u0026 Victoria Spivey. It was released in 1970 by Spivey’s self-named label. Sippie, Wallace’s 1981 album for Atlantic Records, earned her a 1983 Grammy nomination and won the W. C. Handy Award in 1982 for Best Blues Album. The backup band for Wallace was pianist Jim Dapogny’s Chicago Jazz Band. This group included Russ Whitman on reeds, Bob Smith as trombonist, Russ Whitman as cornetist, and Bob Smith as trombonist. She appeared at the Newport Folk Festival in 1966 and 1967, as well as touring Europe with the American Folk Blues Festival (e.g. Copenhagen, Denmark, 1966. The Chicago Blues Festival 1967. Ann Arbor Blues Festival 1972. She also appeared at Lincoln Center, New York in 1977. In Jammin’ With the Blues Greats (1982), she was featured as herself. Sippie was on the Montreux Jazz Festival stage alongside B.B. King, the King of the Blues. King, which was later broadcast. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, she met Axel Zwingenberger (German boogie-woogie pianist), and recorded a studio album with him in 1983. On his album, And the Friends of Boogie Vol., Wallace included many of her original compositions and other classic blues songs. 1: Sippie Wallace was released in 1984. She toured Germany with Zwingenberger in 1984, and they recorded An Evening with Sippie Wallace for Vagabond Records. After a concert at Burghausen Jazz Festival in Germany, she suffered a stroke and was taken to hospital. She died at Sinai Hospital in Detroit on her 88th Birthday. She is buried in Trinity Cemetery, Detroit Wayne County, Michigan. From Wikipedia

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