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Jazz Remembered


Annette Hanshaw


Annette Hanshaw


Alan Bond writes: I have a soft spot for Annette Hanshaw and virtually all her known recordings are available via spotify. I was utterly jealous of Trevor Benwell as he got to meet her when he was in the US many years ago (in the 1940s I think as Trevor was over there as part of his RAF service) and he had a signed photo of her in among the raft of photo's he had in his front room at Dollis Hill. I did ask him if I could have it when he popped off but it never materialised and Trevor has been gone for a good few years now.

Listen to Annette singing I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling in 1929 finishing with her usual 'sign off' of 'That's all!'




Someone on YouTube writes: 'Life has so many magic, wonderful moments, and we often fail to see or feel them when they are Annette Hanshaw posterscreaming and jumping up and down right in front of us. Sometimes, when I am low, I remember this, and wonder if we could withstand  the joy if we took every minute particle in every second. Probably not. HA!!! There is a little of that embedded and overt joy in this song, and I have listened to it ten times in two days. I think I am falling for Annette. That little "That's all" gets me every time.'

Annette Hanshaw was originally thought to have been born in New York in 1910, beginning her recording career shortly before her 16th birthday. However, it has come to light that she was in fact born nine years earlier in 1901, making her 25 at the time of her first commercial recording in September 1926. In a 1934 poll held by Radio Stars, she received the title of best "female popular singer," alongside Bing Crosby as best "male popular singer." (Ruth Etting came third). King Edward VIII, then the Prince of Wales, was a fan and apparently loved dancing to her music.

Annette made many records between 1926 and 1934 for Pathé, Columbia and ARC and issued on various labels including Perfect, Harmony, Diva, Clarion, Velvet Tone, OKeh and Vocalion labels. She recorded under a number of pseudonyms including 'Gay Ellis' (for sentimental numbers), 'Dot Dare' and 'Patsy Young' (for impersonations of Helen Kane).

Here is a brief, rare film of Annette singing:




Annette made one appearance in the 1933 Paramount short Captain Henry's Radio Show, "a picturization" of the popular Thursday evening radio program Maxwell House Show Boat, in which she starred from 1932 to 1934.

We can watch Annette in Captain Henry's Radio Show (with Annette at 7.06 minutes in and some 'blackface' performances now finally consigned to social history).




She retired in the late 1930s and later said: 'As a matter of fact, I disliked all of [my records] intensely. I was most unhappy when they were released. I just often cried because I thought they were so poor, mostly because of my work, but a great deal, I suppose, because of the recording. [...] I disliked the business intensely. I loathed it, and I'm ashamed to say I just did it for the money. I loved singing, you know, jamming with the musicians when it isn't important to do, but somehow or another I was terribly nervous when I sang. [...] You just have to be such a ham and love performing, and I happen to be an introvert, and I just wasn't happy singing, and I wasn't happy with my work as I said.' (Radio interview with Jack Cullen, 1978).

Here's Annette singing Am I Blue in 1929.




Later in her life she considered making a comeback and produced two unreleased demo recordings but she died of cancer in 1985 at New York Hospital, aged 83, after a long illness.


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