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date: 19 October 2020

Brown, Walterlocked

(17 Aug. 1917–June 1956), blues and jazz singer,
  • Scott Yanow

Extract

was born in Dallas, Texas and died in Lawton, Oklahoma. Very little is known about his early life or his personal life in general.

Brown, who sometimes worked outside of music in the 1930s, sang for tips at local bars in Dallas. While he had won first prize in a local talent contest held at Kansas City’s Crystal Palace in 1937, he was still an unknown as 1941 began. That year pianist-bandleader Jay McShann heard Brown performing at a barbecue stand in Dallas and immediately asked him to join his big band.

McShann, who led an eleven-piece jazz orchestra based in Kansas City that included the young altoist Charlie Parker in its personnel, was only a few days away from having his first recording session for the Decca label. He and Brown quickly co-wrote a song, “Confessin’ the Blues,” for the date (30 April 1941 While the ...

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