Lil Green

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Lil Green
Lil Green singer.jpg
Background information
Birth name Lillian Green or
Lillie May Johnson
Born (1919-12-22)December 22, 1919[dubious ]
Mississippi, United States
Died April 14, 1954(1954-04-14) (aged 34)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Genres Blues
Occupation(s) Singer
Labels Bluebird
Atlantic (1951–54)
Associated acts Big Bill Broonzy

Lillian Green (December 22, 1919[dubious ][nb 1] – April 14, 1954)[2] was an American blues singer and songwriter. She was among the leading female rhythm and blues singers of the 1940s, possessed with an ability to bring power to ordinary material and compose superior songs of her own.[7]

Life and career[edit]

Originally named Lillian Green or Lillie May Johnson,[4] she was born in Mississippi. After the early deaths of her parents, she went to Chicago, Illinois, where she began performing in her teens and where she would make all of her recordings.[8]

Green was noted for superb timing and a distinctively sinuous voice. She was reportedly 18 when she recorded her first session for the 35-cent Bluebird subsidiary of RCA. In the 1930s she and Big Bill Broonzy had a nightclub act together.[2] Her two biggest hits were her own composition "Romance in the Dark" (1940),[9] which was later covered by many artists, such as Dinah Washington and Nina Simone (in 1967) (Billie Holiday recorded a different song with the same title), and Green's 1941 version of Kansas Joe McCoy's minor-key blues- and jazz-influenced song "Why Don't You Do Right?",[9] which was covered by Peggy Lee in 1942 and many others since.[8] As well as performing in Chicago nightclubs, Green toured with Tiny Bradshaw and other bands but never broke away from the black theatre circuit.[10]

Green signed with Atlantic Records in 1951, but she was already in poor health.[10] She died of pneumonia in Chicago in 1954 and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, in Gary, Indiana.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Most sources give 1919 as her year of birth.[1][2][3] However, Bob Eagle and Eric S. LeBlanc gave the date as 1901, on the basis of information in the 1910 census, and also referred to a Social Security claim, apparently for her, which stated that she was born on December 22, 1910, in Port Gibson, Mississippi.[4][5] Her 1954 death notice in Jet magazine reported her age at death as 40.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Herzhaft, Gérard (1992). Encyclopedia of the Blues. University of Arkansas Press. p. 128.
  2. ^ a b c Pearson, Barry Lee. "Lillian 'Lil' Green: Biography". AllMusic.com. Retrieved 2015-08-30. 
  3. ^ Lil Green, All About Blues Music.
  4. ^ a b Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues: A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara, California: Praeger. p. 216. ISBN 978-0313344237. 
  5. ^ Riesman, Bob (2011). I Feel So Good: The Life and Times of Big Bill Broonzy. University of Chicago Press. p. 283.
  6. ^ Jet, May 6, 1954. p. 20.
  7. ^ Shadwick, Keith (2001). "Lil Green". Encyclopedia of Jazz and Blues. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Quintet Publishing. p. 461. ISBN 1-86155-385-4. 
  8. ^ a b Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. pp. 114–115. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 
  9. ^ a b Russell, Tony (1997). The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray. Dubai: Carlton Books. p. 13. ISBN 1-85868-255-X. 
  10. ^ a b "Lil Green Biography". Oldies.com. Retrieved 2015-08-30. 

External links[edit]