Byrdie Green

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Byrdie Green
Byrdie Green.jpg
Green photographed in 1967.
Background information
Detroit, Michigan
Died26 April 2008
New York, New York
Genresjazz, R&B, soul, gospel
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, record producer
LabelsEnd Records, Hallmark Records, 20th Century Fox Records, Prestige Records

Byrdie Green (occasionally credited as Birdie Green) (1936 – April 26, 2008) was a jazz and R&B singer from Michigan.


Byrdie Green was born in Detroit, Michigan[1] in 1936.[2] The daughter of a Baptist minister, she sang first in her father's church. Later she went to New York City and performed in clubs, and at one time was a protege of Ruth Brown. She was the first artist signed to Perri Records, who debuted with Green's 7" "Now is The Time For Love / Be Anything."[3] She began recording with End Records, Hallmark Records and 20th Century Fox Records, cutting singles "How Come / Tremblin" and "Get A Hold Of Yourself / Don't Take Your Love From Me" in the early 1960s.[2][4] The song "Get A Hold Of Yourself" is a blend of blues and gospel, and Billboard calls it "a slew rockaballad" and "her strongest item."[5] Green performed at many popular venues, including The Apollo, Baby Grand, The Cookery and Pier 52, as well as Rutgers University, in Boston[1] and in Bermuda.[6] Around 1965, she was hired by organist Johnny "Hammond" Smith and signed with Prestige Records.[1] Smith's The Stinger Meets the Golden Thrush was released in 1966, with Green singing on "They Call It Stormy Monday" and "If I Ruled The World."[7] Green was acclaimed as "an excellent blues singer", "with a powerfully persuasive voice".[7]

That same year Green released her first solo full-length The Golden Thrush Strikes At Midnight,[8] featuring Smith[1] on organ on "Goin' Out of My Head," "The Shows of Your Smile" and "Hurt So Bad." Billboard said Green is "a soul singer with a lot to say and who says it well with a touch of the blues, jazz and gospel."[9] Another reviewer said, "Miss Green displays here a skill that enables her to revitalize not only hard-core blues numbers, but also tried pop items .... She sings with much feeling no matter what the tune, and ... she emotes with a conviction few modern blues interpreters have shown."[8] She released two more albums, I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good) in 1967, which featured Smith,[1] Houston Person, Thornel Schwartz and Jimmy Lewis, and Sister Byrdie! in 1968,[10] which one reviewer called a "gem of soul, blues, and gospel pinned down with Smith's patented organ grooves."[11] Another described it as "slow and moody with some presentations and steppin' out and really telling you where it's at on the others ... always sounding so very groovy."[10] The same year, she appeared on a Nipsey Russell TV show,[10] and, at a performance in New York, was asked by Frank Sinatra to sing an extra set of songs.[10] Her voice was likened to Dinah Washington.[6][12]

Late career[edit]

Green took a break from her career to raise her two daughters,[6] Deborah A. Murray and Dardenella Braxton.[13] She recalls in a 1986 interview in The New York Times "it was necessary to stop, to give them guidance. I could always start my career up again."[6] Green returned to perform at Carnegie Recital Hall in a show entitled Byrdie Green Sings the Blues on 7th March 1975, and continued to work on tour with The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra.[2][14][15][16][17] A 1977 live review by The New York Times John S. Wilson calls Green "a cool blues singer–crisp and curt, with a wry, ironic touch–and, in the blues, she projects a warmth and understanding."[18] Another reviewer described her as having "strong, beautifully modulated voice" with "a command of dynamics which enables her to bathe a lyric in a running river of sound - soft, loud, gradations between."[12] In the 1980s she sang at Lickety Split, Adam Clayton Powell Blvd, Sutton's and at Jimmy Weston's, sometimes accompanied by Walter Bishop Jr.[6] In 1989 she was referred to by The New Yorker as the "little known singer Byrdie Green" as she was joined on stage by Max Roach, Jimmy Heath and Carl Coleman.[19] She also toured with Broadway musical Black and Blue.

Green died at St. Luke's Hospital on 26 April 2008, and was eulogized at Mt. Neboh Church in New York City on 3 May 2008.


The song "Return Of The Prodigal Son" was sampled by Grand Puba for the 1992 track "Lickshot."[20] It also enjoyed an underground DJ following that eventually led to a 45 reissue.[11]




  • "Now Is The time For Love / Be Anything" (1962)
  • "How Come / Tremblin'" (1962)
  • "Tremblin' / Memories Are Made of This" (1962)
  • "Don't Make it Hurt / Magic of Your Love" (1963)
  • "Get a Hold of Yourself / Don't Take Your Love from Me" (1963)
  • "I Found My Place / I Deserve It" (1964)
  • "Through a Long and Sleepless Night / Tears" (1964)
  • "We Need Christmas Now More Than Any Other Year" (1973)


  1. ^ a b c d e Buchanan, William (17 March 1967). "An Almost Gospel Urgency When Byrdie Green Sings". The Boston Globe. p. 28. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  2. ^ a b c NTS Staff 2018.
  3. ^ Billboard Staff 1962.
  4. ^ Lord 1994.
  5. ^ Billboard Staff 1963.
  6. ^ a b c d e Fraser 1986.
  7. ^ a b Lass, Don (30 July 1966). "Record Previews - Once Upon a Time". Asbury Park Press. p. 4. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  8. ^ a b Lass, Don (4 March 1967). "Record Previews". Asbury Park Press. Asbury Park, New Jersey. p. 6. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  9. ^ Billboard Staff 1967.
  10. ^ a b c d Buchanan, William (8 September 1968). "Spins and Needles". The Boston Globe. p. A23. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  11. ^ a b Soul Strut Staff 2015.
  12. ^ a b Nelsen, Don (15 June 1977). "Byrdie is way over par". Daily News. New York, New York. p. 57. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Incognito wants to be well known". Asbury Park Press. Asbury Park, New Jersey. 22 March 1987. p. G12. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  14. ^ The New Yorker Staff 1975.
  15. ^ Feather, Leonard (10 April 1978). "Jones/Lewis at Westside Room". The Los Angeles Times. p. 8, Part IV. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  16. ^ Wong, Herb (16 April 1978). "Beautiful Sounds From Jones, Lewis, Akiyoshi, Tabackin". The San Francisco Examiner. p. 27. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  17. ^ Monroe, Stephen A. (30 August 1978). "Jones, Lewis display fire, charm". Democrat and Chronicle. Rochester, New York. p. C1. Retrieved 23 February 2019.
  18. ^ Wilson 1977.
  19. ^ The New Yorker Staff 1989.
  20. ^ Miyakawa 2005.

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