Irene Higginbotham

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Irene Higginbotham
Irene Higginbotham.jpg
Background information
Born (1918-06-11)June 11, 1918
Origin Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
Died August 27, 1988(1988-08-27) (aged 70)
New York City, United States
Genres Blues, jazz
Occupation(s) Songwriter, pianist
Instruments Piano
Years active 1930s–1988

Irene Higginbotham, born June 11, 1918, Worcester, Massachusetts, died August 27, 1988, New York City,[1] was an African American songwriter and concert pianist. She is best known for co-writing the Billie Holiday song "Good Morning Heartache" (1946).[2]

Biography[edit]

While her closest connection in the popular music of the 1930s and 1940s was Billie Holiday, the prolific songwriter was niece of the classic African American jazz trombonist J. C. Higginbotham. She was a music student of choral conductor Kemper Harold of Morehouse College fame and Frederic Hall. She was also a concert pianist at age fifteen and joined American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) in 1944 when she was around the age of 26. She was a composer of nearly 50 published songs. However, as an African American woman who worked as a composer on Tin Pan Alley during a period when composers there were overwhelmingly white and male, has made some scholars and musicologists speculate that Higginbotham might have composed many more songs that were never published and/or where she was never given a credit as a composer or co-composer. It is known that she, like a few other composers, used a pseudonym, in her case "Glenn Gibson", in what was probably an effort to conceal the fact that she was female, and an African American female at that. While Higginbotham remains one of the least well-known or heralded songwriters, her large contributions to jazz and popular song are undeniable.[3][4]

Works[edit]

Her popular-song compositions included:[5]

Also see ASCAP pages for a partial list.[6]

The two Irenes[edit]

Irene Higginbotham is not to be confused with Irene Kitchings (1908-1975), who was married to jazz pianist Teddy Wilson for a short time and wrote the jazz standard Some Other Spring.[7]

References[edit]

External links[edit]