Tilton on the cover of the April 1946 issue of music magazine Radio Mirror
|Birth name||Martha Ellen Tilton|
|Also known as||The Liltin' Miss Tilton|
November 14, 1915|
Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S.
|Died||December 8, 2006
Brentwood, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Labels||Capitol, Coral, Tops|
|Associated acts||Three Hits and a Miss, Benny Goodman|
Martha Tilton (November 14, 1915 – December 8, 2006) was an American popular singer during America's swing era and traditional pop period. She is best known for her 1939 recording of "And the Angels Sing" with Benny Goodman.
Tilton and her family lived in Texas and Kansas, relocating to Los Angeles when she was seven years old. While attending Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, she was singing on a small radio station when she was heard by an agent who signed her and began booking her with larger stations. She then dropped out of school in the 11th grade to join Hal Grayson's band.
After singing with the quartet Three Hits and a Miss, she joined the Myer Alexander chorus on Benny Goodman's radio show, Camel Caravan. Goodman hired Tilton as a vocalist with his band in August 1937. She was with Goodman in January 1938, when the band performed the first jazz performance at Carnegie Hall. She continued to appear as Goodman's star vocalist through the end of 1939.
Tilton married James Brooks, a test pilot, in 1948.
Tilton had a major success from 1942 to 1949 as one of the first artists to record for Capitol Records. Her first recording for Capitol was "Moon Dreams", Capitol 138, with Orchestra and The Mellowaires, composed by Johnny Mercer and Glenn Miller pianist Chummy MacGregor in 1942. "Moon Dreams" would be recorded by Glenn Miller in 1944 and by Miles Davis in 1950. Among her biggest hits as a solo artist were "I'll Walk Alone", a wartime ballad which rose to #4 on the charts in 1944; "I Should Care" and "A Stranger in Town," which both peaked at #10 in 1945; and three in 1947: "How Are Things in Glocca Morra" from Finian's Rainbow, which climbed to #8; "That's My Desire", which hit #10; and "I Wonder, I Wonder, I Wonder", which reached #9.
After she left Capitol, Tilton recorded for other labels, including Coral and Tops. Among her later albums was We Sing the Old Songs (1957, Tops), a mix of older songs and recent standards with baritone Curt Massey, who later became well known as the composer (with Paul Henning) and singer of the theme song for the CBS-TV series Petticoat Junction.
Reviewing the two-CD set, The Liltin' Miss Tilton, (Capitol, 2000), critic Don Heckman wrote:
- There are those who would say that Martha Tilton wasn't a jazz singer at all. But swing-era fans won't have any doubts, remembering her for a rocking version of "Loch Lomond" at Benny Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall concert.
Massey and Tilton starred in Alka-Seltzer Time, a 15-minute radio series broadcast weekdays on both CBS and Mutual. Sponsored by Alka-Seltzer, this show began in 1949 as Curt Massey Time (sometimes advertised as Curt Massey Time with Martha Tilton) with a title change to highlight the sponsor's product by 1952. Prior to that, Tilton had co-starred on The Jack Smith Show, another 15-minute radio musical program.,
By 1953, the series was heard simultaneously on Mutual (at noon) and later that same day on CBS (at 5:45pm). Ads described the show as "informal song sessions" by vocalists Massey and Tilton, who was often billed as "The liltin' Martha Tilton." The two Texas-born singers performed with Country Washburne and His Orchestra, featuring Charles LaVere on piano. The series ended November 6, 1953.
However, Massey and Tilton continued to appear together during the late 1950s on such shows as Guest Star and Stars for Defense. They also teamed to record an album, We Sing the Old Songs (1957). Tilton and Massey also co-hosted a daily fifteen-minute TV show in Los Angeles for approximately seven years.
Her movies include Sunny (1941), Strictly in the Groove (1942), Swing Hostess (1944), Crime, Inc.. (1945), and The Benny Goodman Story (1956). Her last film appearance was as the band vocalist in the TV movie Queen of the Stardust Ballroom (1975). Tilton's singing voice was used for other actresses including Barbara Stanwyck (Ball of Fire), Martha O'Driscoll, and Anne Gwynne. She also appeared in several Soundies musical films of the 1940s.
With Benny Goodman
|"Can't Teach My Old Heart New Tricks"||14|
|1938||"You Took the Words Right Out of My Heart"||9|
|"Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen"||4|
|"Please Be Kind"||14|
|"I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart"||1|
|"Feelin' High and Happy"||11|
|"Why'd Ya Make Me Fall in Love?"||12|
|"The Flat Foot Floogee"||7|
|"(I've Been) Savin' Myself for You"||12|
|"What Goes On Here in My Heart"||3|
|"A Little Kiss at Twilight"||7|
|"I've Got a Date with a Dream"||4|
|"Could You Pass in Love?"||20|
|"When I Go A-Dreamin'"||11|
|"Is That the Way to Treat a Sweetheart?"||15|
|"What Have You Got That Gets Me?"||6|
|"This Can't Be Love"||2|
|"I Have Eyes"||6|
|"You're a Sweet Little Headache"||6|
|"I Must See Annie Tonight"||13|
|1939||"And the Angels Sing"||1|
With Benny Goodman
- The Complete RCA Victor Small Group Recordings (RCA Victor, 1935–39 )
|1944||"I'll Walk Alone"||4|
|1945||"Stranger in Town"||10|
|"I Should Care"||10|
|1947||"How Are Things in Glocca Morra?"||8|
|"I Wonder, I Wonder, I Wonder"||9|
|"That's My Desire"||10|
|1950||"I'll Always Love You"||23|
- Warren, Jill (August 1953). "What's New from Coast to Coast". Radio-TV Mirror 40 (3): 20. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
- McLellan, Dennis. "Martha Tilton, 91; '40s vocalist known for 'And the Angels Sing'," Los Angeles Times, December 12, 2006
- Carter (January 3, 1942). "Comment". Billboard. Retrieved 2 February 2015.
- Dunning, John. (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. P. 133.
- "Shore & Tilton Figure in Smith Stanza Shuffle". Billboard. December 11, 1948. Retrieved 23 August 2014.
- IMDb: Martha Tilton
- Whitburn, Joel (1986). Pop Memories: 1890–1954. Record Research. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.