|Birth name||Kitty Jean Bilbrew|
July 7, 1923|
Los Angeles, California
|Died||August 11, 2009
Palm Springs, California
|Genres||Jazz, gospel, pop, spiritual|
She recorded mostly on the West Coast with top jazz musicians like Buddy Collette, Gerald Wiggins, Chico Hamilton, Bud Shank and Red Callender. She sang many demo recordings for her friend, the prolific Los Angeles blues composer Jessie Mae Robinson, including "I Went to Your Wedding," a No. 1 hit for Patti Page in 1953.
Kitty Jean Bilbrew was born on July 7, 1923 in Los Angeles, California. She was raised in a musical family—her parents were singers, and her uncle was a well-known vaudevillian and disc jockey. She started her career at the age of sixteen as a singer and a pianist. She appeared in local night clubs in her home town Los Angeles like the Hob Nob, the Club Gala, the Haig and The Captain's Table. When Kitty branched out and opened at the Black Orchid in Chicago, Illinois, she was introduced to the executives of Mercury Records, and she became a Mercury recording artist.
Her twin sister, Maudie Jeanette, also sang and briefly worked with Duke Ellington's revue, Jump for Joy, but never pursued an active career. Their mother, known as A.C. Bilbrew, organized an all-black chorus that performed in the 1929 film Hearts of Dixie.
A.C. later recorded the 1955 protest song "The Ballad of Emmett Till" for Dootone Records. Kitty picked up her catchy jazz name legitimately by marrying songwriter Eddie White in the 1940s. She moved to Palm Springs, California in 1967 and sang at the Spa Hotel for sixteen years.
White died in Palm Springs, at the age of 86, after suffering a stroke.
Kitty White worked in several films. She sang "The Lullaby Song" that accompanied the magical scene of the children floating down the Ohio River in a rowboat in Charles Laughton's 1955 classic The Night of the Hunter, after composer Walter Schumann, who wrote the song, discovered her in a small club. She sang "Crawfish" with Elvis Presley in his 1958 film King Creole; the duet appeared on the soundtrack album.
She voiced the song "Rather Have the Blues" for actress Mady Comfort in Robert Aldrich's 1955 cult film noir Kiss Me Deadly, accompanied by pianist Earl Grant, who's best known for the 1958 pop hit "The End." She also sang the title theme of Riders to the Stars in 1954 and The Magnificent Matador in 1955.
- 1955 A New Voice in Jazz (EmArcy 36020)
- 1956 Kitty White (EmArcy 36068)
- 1956 A Moment of Love (Pacifica 2002)
- 1960 Wimoweh (Dot 16157)
- 1962 Kitty White (Clover CL 1229)
- 1965 Kitty White and Laurindo Almedia with the Buddy Collette Orchestra (Horizon WP 1606)
- 1978 Crawfish Duet with Elvis Presley (Remake, Dot CR1908)
- Kitty White at AllMusic
- Kitty White discography at Discogs
- Kitty White at the Internet Movie Database
- Kitty White at Find a Grave