Monday, February 18, 2013

Ina Ray Hutton and Her Melodears - "Truckin" & "Doin' The Suzy Q"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post presents information about Jazz band leader, singer, and dancer Ina Ray Hutton. Two videos of Ina Ray Hutton and her all female band (Melodears) are showcases in this post. Both of these videos refer to very popular Jazz (Swing) dances of the 1930s.

Information about Ina Ray Hutton's sister, singer June Hutton, is also included in this post for supplemental purposes.

The content of this post is presented for historical, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

"Ina Ray Hutton (March 13, 1916 – February 19, 1984) was an American female leader during the Big band era, and sister to June Hutton.

Hutton was born as Odessa Cowan in Chicago, Illinois of African American descent.[1] She began dancing and singing in stage revues at the age of eight. Cowan's mother Marvel Ray was a local pianist and entertainer in Chicago. She attended Hyde Park High School on the South Side of Chicago. In the 1930s she appeared on Broadway in George White's Scandals and The Ziegfeld Follies.
In 1934 she was asked by vaudeville agent Alex Hyde to lead an all-girl orchestra, the Melodears, which featured musicians including trumpet player Frances Klein, pianist Ruth Lowe Sandler, guitarist Marian Gange, trumpeter Mardell "Owen" Winstead and trombonist Alyse Wells during its existence.[2][3] Hutton and her Melodears were one of the first all-girl bands to be filmed for Paramount shorts...

The group disbanded in 1939. In 1940 she led an all-male orchestra that was featured in the film Even Since Venus (1944); it was disbanded in 1946. During the 1950s, she returned to the all-girl format for variety television programs including the Ina Ray Hutton Show for a local station on the West Coast"...
"Hutton, Ina Ray, née Odessa Cowan (1916–1984)
Ina Ray Hutton led the Melodears, one of the first all-female swing bands to be recorded and filmed. She passed as white throughout her musical career, as the leader of several bands from the 1930s through the 1960s. But when Hutton was a child, United States Census records called her and her family “negro,” and “mulatto,” when the Bureau used that term. Her family occasionally appeared in the society pages of a black newspaper"...
Here is a brief clip from the Wikipedia page for Ina Ray Hutton's sister June Hutton:
"June Hutton (August 11, 1920 – May 2, 1973[1]) was an American popular singer.

Born June Cowan in Chicago she and her older sister, Ina Ray Hutton, a band leader in the 1930s and 40s, passed as white throughout their musical careers. United States Census records identified her family as “negro,” and “mulatto,” when the Bureau used that term.[2] Though their family occasionally appeared in the society pages of a black newspaper, both sisters had light complexions and by the late 1930s, dyed their hair blonde. Ina Ray Hutton changed her last name to "Hutton" (inspired by heiress Barbara Hutton), and in 1941, her younger sister June joined the band of her older sister, first singing under the name of Elaine Merritt, eventually changing her last name to "Hutton' as well"...

Video #1: Ina Ray Hutton and Her Melodears - Truckin'

Jan Klompstra, Uploaded on Aug 14, 2006
All-female dance band of the 30s.
Leader and singer: sexy Ina Ray Hutton
Click for information about the Jazz dance "Truckin". That website indicates that this dance first originated in Harlem in 1927.

Video #2: Ina Ray Hutton and Her Melodears - Doin' The Suzy Q

Jan Klompstra, Uploaded on Aug 13, 2006
All-female dance band with sexy leader-singer Ina

A commenter on that video's indicated that this song & film clip are from 1936.
Click information about the Jazz dance the "Suzy Q". That website indicates that this dance first originated in 1935.

Click for a post on my Jambalayah website that includes videos of a number of African American originated jazz dances (from the 1920 through the 1940s), including the Suzy Q and Truckin. A video demonstrating the Susie Q is clearly labeled. Brief demonstrations of the Susie Q step, the Truckin step, and 82 other Jazz dance steps are found in the video that is entitled "Alphabetical Jazz Steps 2 (Bigger & Longer)"

Thanks to Ina Ray Hutton and Her Melodears for their musical legacy. Thanks to the composers of these songs, and thanks to the uploaders of these videos.

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Viewer comments are welcome.

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