Billie Holiday's first recording- = "Your Mother's Son-In-Law."

From a Benny Goodman session (his first as a leader), November 27, 1933.

The label calls this "Your Mother's Son-In-Law," but Billie correctly sings "My Mother's Son-In-Law." She tells her boyfriend "I want to marry--if you are my mother's son-in-law, that means I'm your wife!"

Musicians here in Benny Goodman's pick-up band are Charlie Teagarden, Shirley Clay, Jack Teagarden, Art Karle, Buck Washington or Joe Sullivan at piano (the dispute over the pianist's identity doesn't matter to me since the instrument is not prominent), Gene Krupa, and a few others.

This was cut at the very end of a Goodman session. Earlier Ethel Waters sang two vocal refrains. I view Ethel Waters as a minor talent but view Billie as a giant. I love "Your Mother's Son-In-Law"!

Jazz critics complain that Billie was forced to work with trite songs in her early days. I don't take jazz critics seriously because of such silly pronouncements. Billie Holiday handles so-called "trite" songs in interesting ways, and I prefer Billie's early "trite" material (here the songwriters are Mann Holiner and Alberta Nichols) to her later renditions of songs by Cole Porter, Gershwin, and other song-writing geniuses.

This is Billie Holiday's first studio recording. She was 18. The young and unknown singer (well, not unknown to producer John Hammond) provides a vocal refrain for Benny Goodman's studio band when the nation's economic depression was horrible!

Billie had been working at Monette's Supper Club on 133rd Street in Harlem--she sang at Connie's Inn and Covan's on West 132nd Street, too.

John Hammond spotted her talent (at Covan's, it seems--he was expecting to hear Monette Moore) and convinced Benny Goodman to use Billie at a session that Hammond set up.

Jazz critics have written that Billie sounds very nervous here, but I don't hear it.

The record is rare, which is true for virtually every disc (no matter the artist) made in 1933.

Billie is excellent here--one of her best performances! I confess that I much prefer Billie's upbeat material (like this!) to "Strange Fruit" and to any blues she covered.

Weeks later, on December 18, Billie returned to the Columbia studio to sing a vocal refrain on "Riffin' the Scotch," which sold relatively well for a Depression-era disc.

Then 17 months passed before Billie would again appear in a recording studio--on July 2, 1935, beginning with "I Wished On The Moon."

"Your Mother's Son-In-Law" was featured in Lew Leslie's revue titled "Blackbirds of 1934."

Jules Bledsoe is cited in the song's lyrics. He was an African-American baritone who is now mostly forgotten. His heyday was around the time this record was made though he was not exactly a household name. He covered some material that Paul Robeson also covered, such as "Ol' Man River" from Show Boat. Paul Robeson is still remembered but not Bledsoe.

You don't have to have a hanker
To be a broker or banker.
No, siree, just simply be
My mother's son-in-law.
Needn't even think of tryin'
To be a mighty social lion
Sipping tea if you'll be
My mother's son-in-law.
Ain't got the least desire
To set the world on fire.
Just wish you'd make it proper
To call my old man "papa."
You don't have to sing like Bledsoe.
You can tell the world I said so.
Can't you see you've got to be
My mother's son-in-law?

You don't have to sing like Bledsoe.
You can tell the world I said so.
Can't you see you've got to be
My mother's son-in-law?

Songwriters are Mann Holiner and Alberta Nichols.

Here is more background information. Five days before this session, on November 22, Benny Goodman was at an Annette Hanshaw session. Benny worked with first-class singers!

With Benny in a studio three days before this session was Bessie Smith--a singer who influenced Billie. Bessie was at the end of her recording career, and Billie was at the beginning of hers. November 1933 was the end of one era, the start of a new one--a bridge here was Benny Goodman.

Benny was a mere session man during the Hanshaw and Smith sessions (on Bessie's "Gimmie A Pigfoot," Benny is hardly audible), but with Billie at this session, Benny was the leader.

For Billie Holiday records, the earlier, the better. I love this record (the earliest)--it never bores me unlike many of her later discs.

From 1935 until a recording ban on August 1, 1942, Billie sang on around 150 sides that became Columbia property.

She made Commodore recordings, beginning on April 20, 1939.

She made Decca recordings, starting in October 1944, with Billie more of a chanteuse (star of song--cabaret singer), less of a jazz singer.

From 1952 to 1957, she sang for Norman Granz's Verve label. Her voice was no longer the glorious instrument it had been 20 years earlier.

Clarinet – Benny Goodman
Piano – Joe Sullivan
Trombone – Jack Teagarden
Trumpet – Charlie Teagarden
Vocals – Billie Holiday
Written By – Alberta Nichols, Mann Holiner


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