Darlings of Rhythm

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The Darlings of Rhythm was an originally African American all-female swing band from the 1940s.[1]

The Darlings were often compared with International Sweethearts of Rhythm, another African American all-girl swing band. The Darlings were more dark-skinned than the light-skinned Sweethearts.[2] Toby Butler, a white member of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, was rumored to have left the band and joined the Darlings in the mid-1940s, when racial segregation made playing in mixed bands illegal. This rumor was confirmed in 1946 when she was arrested while performing in Georgia.[3]

Band members[edit]

Members of the Darlings changed over time, and included the following:

  • Clarence Love (leader)
  • Jean Ray Lee (trumperter)
  • Thelma Lewis (trumpeter)
  • Helen Taborn (vocalist)[3]
  • Frann Gaddison (saxophonist)
  • Jessie Turner (trombonist)
  • Josephine Boyd (alto saxophonist)
  • Margaret "Padjo" Backstrom (tenor sexophonist)
  • Henrietta Fontaine (drummer)
  • Lula Roberts
  • Vi Wilson (bass)
  • Hettie Smith (drummer)
  • Gurthalee Clark (reeds)


The Darlings were formed in 1943 in Harlem by African American saxophonist Lorraine Brown.[1]

Several of the band members joined the Darlings after leaving other bands. Gaddison and Vi Wilson joined the Darlings after leaving the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. Wilson joined the group to be with her cousin, reeds player Gurthalee Clark. Trombonist Jessie Turner and tenor saxophonist Margaret Backstrom left Eddie Durham’s All Star Girl Orchestra for the Darlings.[3]

In 1945, drummer Hettie Smith replaced Henrietta Fontaine.[3]

The bassist, drummer, and saxophonist for the Darlings later went to Syncoettes band. Some members from the Darlings also went to Tiny Davis's Hell Divers.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Tucker, Sherrie (Autumn 1998). "Nobody's Sweethearts: Gender, Race, Jazz, and the Darlings of Rhythm". American Music 16 (3): 255–288. doi:10.2307/3052637. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Carl J. Schneider; Dorothy Schneider (1 January 2009). World War II. Infobase Publishing. p. 106. ISBN 978-1-4381-0890-2. 
  3. ^ a b c d Sherrie Tucker (6 June 2000). Swing Shift: “All-Girl” Bands of the 1940s. Duke University Press. p. 205. ISBN 0-8223-8090-0. 
  4. ^ Kristin A. McGee (2009). Some Liked it Hot: Jazz Women in Film and Television, 1928-1959. Wesleyan University Press. p. 254. ISBN 978-0-8195-6908-0.