Blue Rose is the debut studio album by Rosemary Clooney, accompanied by Duke Ellington and his orchestra, released in mono on Columbia Records, catalogue CL 872. Although she had appeared on albums before, it had been in the context of either a musical theater or multiple artist recording. The album also marked the return of Ellington to Columbia after an absence of four years, and was one of the first examples of overdubbing being used as an integral part of the creation, rather than for effects or to correct mistakes.
During the early 1950s, it had been the policy of both company president Goddard Lieberson and producer Mitch Miller at Columbia to discourage their roster of popular singers from planning full albums, the LP reserved for serious work such as classical music or original cast recordings. This policy changed with the success of popular music albums on other labels, and to give the return of Ellington to the fold exposure beyond the jazz audience, producer Irving Townsend decided on pairing the Ellington band with a singer for a full album, choosing Clooney for her sultry voice and her spate of hit records throughout the decade.
The project encountered difficulty from Clooney being both on the outs with her usual producer Mitch Miller and pregnant in Los Angeles, with the Ellington Orchestra being recorded in New York. With Townsend at the helm, Clooney agreed to the project, and long-time Ellington orchestrator and musical foil Billy Strayhorn was dispatched to guide Clooney through the arrangements and recording in L.A.
Recordings of the Ellington Orchestra took place on January 23 and 27, 1956, at Columbia's 30th Street Studio in New York, and Clooney's vocals were recorded for overdubbing to the New York track on February 8 and 11 in Los Angeles. The material selected originated from the Ellington songbook, and all songs were arranged by Strayhorn. The title tune was specifically written by Ellington for the album and Clooney.