Pauline Braddy

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Pauline Braddy Williams (February 14, 1922 – January 28, 1996)[1] was an African American drummer. She is best known for her work with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm. Braddy was considered one of the most important players in the Sweethearts and was known as "Queen of the Drums."


The Mendenhall, Mississippi-born Braddy attended the Piney Woods Country Life School.[2][3] In school, Braddy played clarinet, and says she got into playing drums "by accident."[4] When the school band went to Memphis to play, the drummer dropped out and Braddy was chosen to take up the drums because of her good sense of rhythm.[4]

Braddy joined the International Sweethearts of Rhythm in 1939.[2] Braddy was not only a drummer for the group, but also sang.[5] In 1944, she was named "Wallet Gal" by soldiers stationed in Hawaii.[6] Braddy participated in the bands USO tour of Europe in 1945, and remained a member until 1955.[2][7] In the USO tour, Sherrie Tucker writes that "Chorus after chorus, Braddy's drums draw shouts of applause at every new configuration of paradidles."[8] In the performances of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, her drumming was considered a "spotlight" of the group.[9] The Tampa Bay Times called her drumming "sensational."[10] Francis Davis in The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that the band was "powered by Pauline Braddy's drumming."[11] She was also called "Queen of the Drums."[4]

After the Sweethearts disbanded, she moved to New York and became a drummer for the Vi Burnside All-Stars, the Edna Smith Trio and Two Plus One.[12] Braddy moved back to Washington to care for her mother in the 1960s.[12] Shen then worked for around 20 years as a switchboard operator, retiring in 1994.[12] Braddy was eager to talk about the history of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, and provided writer Antoinette D. Hardy with information and ephemera for her book The International Sweethearts of Rhythm.[13] Braddy moved to Braxton, Mississippi after retiring.[12] Braddy died in her home on January 28, 1996.[12]


  1. ^ Handy, D. Antoinette (1998). Black Women in American Bands and Orchestras. Scarecrow Press. p. 207. ISBN 9780810834194.
  2. ^ a b c "Braddy, Pauline". The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz. New York Public Library for the Performing Arts: Macmillan Publishers Limited. 2002.
  3. ^ Feather, Leonard (April 13, 1980)
  4. ^ a b c Smith, Angela (2014-04-10). Women Drummers: A History from Rock and Jazz to Blues and Country. Scarecrow Press. pp. 34–35. ISBN 9780810888357.
  5. ^ "When the International Sweet-". The Pittsburgh Courier. 1940-04-13. p. 20. Retrieved 2017-12-20 – via
  6. ^ "'Wallet Gal' For Hawaii's Battalion". The New York Age. 1944-02-12. p. 4. Retrieved 2017-12-20 – via
  7. ^ Dahl, Linda (1984). Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazzwomen. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 282. ISBN 9780879101282.
  8. ^ Tucker, Sherrie (2000-06-06). Swing Shift: "All-Girl" Bands of the 1940s. Duke University Press. p. 235. ISBN 0822380900.
  9. ^ "All-Girl Orchestra to Play Emancipation Dance at Auditorium". Moberly Monitor-Index. 1947-07-29. p. 5. Retrieved 2017-12-20 – via
  10. ^ "Joyland Brings All-Female Band". Tampa Bay Times. 1948. p. 5. Retrieved 2017-12-20 – via
  11. ^ "Jazz". The Philadelphia Inquirer. 1984-12-14. p. 110. Retrieved 2017-12-20 – via
  12. ^ a b c d e "PAULINE BRADDY WILLIAMS, SWING-ERA SINGER, DIES AT 73". Washington Post. 1996-02-02. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-12-21.
  13. ^ Handy, Antoinette D. (1998-10-01). The International Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Ladies' Jazz Band from Piney Woods Country Life School. Scarecrow Press. pp. 4–5. ISBN 9781461623595.

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