Search this site
Frisco Jazz CDs
Alguire, Danny
Armstrong, Lil Hardin
Armstrong, Louis
Bagatelle jazz bar
Bales, Burt
Bardin, Bill
Basie, Count
Bearcats archive
Bechet, Sidney
Beiderbecke, Bix
Berigan, Bunny
Berkeley Jazz Houses
Berry, Byron
Black Diamond Jazz Band
Blumberg, Jerry
Bolden, Buddy
Bruce, Bobby
Burp Hollow tapes
Butterman, Ted
Calloway, Blanche
Carter, Benny
Casa Loma Orchestra
Cattolica, Vince
Chace, Frank
Cheatham, Doc
Christian, Charlie
Christmas Jazz
Clayton, Buck
Club Hangover Archive
Club Hangover Rarities
Colman, Bunky
Cowboy Jazz
Dane, Barabara
Ellington, Duke: Live
Ellington, Duke: Tribute
Erickson, Bill
Erickson, Bill: Archive
Ekyan, Andre
Farey, Ev - Bay City JB
Fitzgerald, Ella
Goodman, Benny
Goodwin, Jim
Goudie, Frank Big Boy
Goudie in Paris 1924-39
Goudie's Paris
Goudie's San Francisco
Goudie, Frank: Music Pt 2
Goudie, Frank: Music Pt 3
Great Pacific Jazz Band
Handy, WC
Hayes, Clancy
Hayes, Clancy Archive
Helm, Bob
Hines, Earl Fatha
Holiday, Billie
Honeybucket tapes
International Sweethearts
Jazz Guitar Pioneers
Johnson, Bunk
Johnson, James P.
Joplin, Janis: Jazz tapes
Lang, Eddie
Larks Club tapes
Lashley, Barbara
Leonard, Ada - All Girl Orch
Lyttleton, Humphrey
McDonald, Stan: Programs
McDonald, Stan: Bonus
Men of the Blues
Mielke, Bob
Mielke Tapes archive
Misc Topics I
Misc Topics II
Monkey Inn Gang I
Monkey Inn Gang II
Morton, Jelly Roll
Murphy, Spud
Napier, Bill
New Black Eagle Jazz Band
Nods Taproom
Noone, Jimmie
Oakland Swingin' A's Jazz Band
Ordinary, The tapes
Oxtot, Dick
Oxtot Golden Age JB
Pier 23 tapes
Price, Sammy
Reinhardt, Django
Rose, Wally
Russell, Pee Wee
Scheelar, Earl
Scheelar tape archive
Sharon Rogers Band
Shaw, Artie
Skjelbred, Ray
Smith, Bessie & Rainey, Ma
Smith, Jabbo
South, Eddie
South Frisco JB archive
Spanier, Muggsy
Stanton, PT '50s-'60s
Stanton, PT 1970s
Strickler, Benny: Frisco
Strickler, Benny: Tulsa
Teagarden, Jack
Waller, Fats
Washboard Rhythm Kings
West Coast Trad Jazz
Williams, Clarence
Women of Jazz
Women of Jazz (AUDIO)
Yerba Buena Jazz Band
Yerba Buena archive
YBJB Phil Elwood
Young, Lester
NY Festivals 2014
Gabriel Award 2011
Gabriel Award 2009
Gabriel Award 2004
Golden Reel 2003
Golden Reel 2002
Golden Reel 2001
Radlauer books
Writing and Essays
Tip Jar

Blanche Calloway

Singer, composer and bandleader Blanche Calloway (1902-1978) is recognized as the first woman to successfully lead an all-male Jazz orchestra under her own name. 

Waxing a couple dozen sides, Blanche Calloway and Her Joy Boys were a quite successful regional Midwestern band in the early 1930s. 

But she was eclipsed by the superstardom of her much more famous brother Cab Calloway. 

Cab Calloway borrowed key elements from his elder sister’s act -- her bravura vocal style and Hi-de-Ho call and response routines.  His 1976 memoir acknowledges her influence, declaring Blanche “vivacious, lovely, personality plus and a hell of a singer and dancer,” an all-around entertainer who was “fabulous, happy and extroverted.”

Blanche’s 12-piece outfit consisted of personnel often interchangeable with Andy Kirk and The Clouds of Joy including pianist and arranger Mary Lou Williams, but Calloway split off.  In 1931 she was one of the first to hire young Kansas City tenor saxophonist Ben Webster -- heard on “Just a Crazy Song.”  Trombonist Vic Dickenson is featured in “I Need Lovin’.”  Both songs were probably arranged by talented trumpet player and arranger Edgar “Puddinghead” Battle, who later wrote for Cab.

Just a Crazy Song.mp3
I Need Lovin'.mp3  

Blanche Calloway in her early days and with Andy Kirk and his Twelve Clouds of Joy including Mary Lou Williams.

Calloway dropped out of college to enter show business with a Cabaret troupe, subsequently appearing in Sissle and Blake’s “Shuffle Along” and the touring “Plantation Days.”  She was very successful in Chicago during the early 1920s at the prestigious Sunset Café and made a blues record accompanied by cornet player Louis Armstrong.  

Though her last official orchestra disbanded in 1938, Calloway ran an all-woman band briefly during World War II.  She remained engaged with the entertainment industry into the 1950s, running bands and representing her protégé, R & B singer Ruth Brown.  

Blanche retired to Miami in the 1950s.  Becoming active in civil rights, she was the first black woman to vote in the State of Florida.  In the 1960s Blanche was the only African American female disc jockey on the air in Florida, possibly the entire Southern United States, and ran her own cosmetics company.  

Her scintillating 1931 “Growlin’ Dan” contains proto-Minnie the Moocher imagery.  It again shows the deft hand of arranger Edgar Battle and drummer Cozy Cole.  “You Ain’t Livin’ Right” is from her last recording session in November 1935.  

Growlin’ Dan (1931).mp3
You Ain’t Livin’ Right (1935).mp3

More Dynamic Women of Early Jazz and Blues at Syncopated Times.       


This site is free.  But you can help sustain it and encourage me with donation to the tip jar.

Secure payment through PayPal is anonymous, except that I will see your e-mail address.

Donations are paid securely through PayPal.

Donation $5.00
Donation $10.00
Donation $20.00
Donation $35.00
Donation $50.00
Donation: You decide