No Golden Age Vocalists series would be complete without including my favorite vocal groups, both male and female. To my mind, the greatest male group was The Mills Brothers, and the greatest of ALL vocal groups was The Boswell Sisters….an opinion in which I am not alone:

“There were many sister vocal groups in the 1920s. Most, at best, featured appealing voices and little else, but the Boswell Sisters were on a completely different level altogether. Not only were they the finest of all the sisters groups of the past century, but they were arguably the most rewarding vocal ensemble [of either gender, or mixed gender].” –Scott Yanow, from his book Classic Jazz.

Connie (1907-76), Martha (1908-58), and Helvetia “Vet” (1909-88) Boswell were born and raised in (where else?) New Orleans. They first recorded in 1925 but didn’t begin recording regularly until 1930. Connie came down with polio as an infant and was unable to walk, which is why she always appears seated….but what a voice! Martha and Vet retired in 1936, but Connie (name later changed to Connee), who always took the solo parts in the group, carried on as a solo for two more decades. She was cited by Ella Fitzgerald as her main vocal influence.

Turning to The Mills Brothers (Herbert, Harry, Donald, and John, who died the same year The Boswell Sisters disbanded, and was replaced by their father, Herbert Sr.), their ages and early popularity roughly coincided with the Boswells. They excelled in vocally imitating musical instruments, though they actually used only a guitar, as in this great clip from the 1932 film, The Big Broadcast:

We conclude this series as we started this post, because all’s well that ends Bos….well, you know:

I plan to take a break from blogging for a few weeks — perhaps longer. In the meantime, may the spirit of harmony be your guide.