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|Birth name||Savannah Valentine Roberts|
August 21, 1915|
Colfax, Louisiana, U.S.
|Died||April 19, 1974
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Genres||Rhythm and blues, pop, jazz|
|Associated acts||Benny Carter Orchestra
The Four Tunes
Born Savannah Valentine Roberts to Creole parents in Colfax, Louisiana, she was raised in Brooklyn, New York, and started singing in 1941 to support her family after her husband David Churchill was killed in a car accident. Her first recordings, including the risqué "Fat Meat Is Good Meat", were issued on Beacon Records in 1942. These were followed the next year by recordings on Capitol with the Benny Carter Orchestra, including her first hit "Hurry, Hurry".
In 1945 she signed with Irving Berman's Manor Records, and that year "Daddy Daddy" reached # 3 on the R&B chart. Two years later she had her only R&B # 1 with "I Want To Be Loved (But Only By You)", which topped the charts for eight weeks. The record was billed as being with vocal group The Sentimentalists, who soon renamed themselves The Four Tunes. Subsequent recordings with The Four Tunes, including "Time Out For Tears" (# 10 R&B, # 24 pop) and "I Want To Cry", both in 1948, were also successful.
Billed as "Sex-Sational", she performed to much acclaim, and appeared in the movies Miracle in Harlem (1948) and Souls of Sin (1949). She toured widely with backing vocal group The Striders, including a visit to Hawaii in 1954. From 1949 she recorded with Regal, RCA Victor and Decca Records, recording the original version of "Shake A Hand", later a big hit for Faye Adams, and also recording with the Ray Charles Singers. In 1956 she was one of the first artists signed to the Argo label, set up as a subsidiary to Chess Records.
Tragedy struck later in 1956 to end her career. She was singing on stage in a club, when a drunken man fell on top of her from a balcony above, causing severe debilitating injuries from which she would never fully recover. Although she did some recording in 1960, her health declined greatly until her death in Brooklyn in 1974.
|1947||"I Want to Be Loved (But Only by You)"||21||1|
|1948||"Time Out for Tears"||20||10|
|"I Want to Cry"||-||14|
|1951||"(It's No) Sin"||5||-|
|1953||"Shake a Hand"||22||-|
- Some sources state 1919 or 1920.
- Eagle, Bob; LeBlanc, Eric S. (2013). Blues - A Regional Experience. Santa Barbara: Praeger Publishers. p. 305. ISBN 978-0313344237.
- Savannah Churchill Biography at Black Cat Rockabilly. Retrieved 29 November 2013
- Whitburn, Joel (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954: The History of American Popular Music. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research, Inc. p. 83. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
- Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 81.