Born: September 12, 1924 | Died: October 16, 1999 Primary Instrument: Vocalist
Ella Mae Morse was one of the most exciting vocalists of the ‘40s and ‘50s, a hard-to-classify, Texas-born white singer whose vocals were deeply influenced by her apprenticeship with a black guitarist who taught her the blues. Her style defied characterization, as it embraced boogie-woogie, blues, jazz, swing, country and at times came remarkably close to what would be known as rock & roll.
Ella Mae Morse was born in Mansfield, Texas on Sept. 12, 1924, the daughter of a drummer-father and a pianist- mother. After singing in her father's jazz combo,when she wasn't yet 14,she had her first taste of the big time, when Jimmy Dorsey's band came to Dallas for a stay at the Adolphus Hotel and she called for an audition.Believing that Morse was indeed 19, as she and her mother claimed, Dorsey hired her. When he received a letter from the school board declaring that he was responsible for Morse's care, Dorsey fired her.
Ella Mae joined former Dorsey pianist Freddie Slack's band in 1942; she was only 17 when they cut ‘Cow Cow Boogie,’ which became Capitol Records' first gold single. The following year, Morse began recording solo. Although her recordings were consistently solid and sold fairly well, she never obtained a huge following.
Morse played predominantly as a solo artist thereafter, and from the early 1940s to the early 1950s released such top 10 hits as House Of Blue Lights, (earned 10 gold records) Shoo Shoo Baby, No Love, No Nothin', and The Blacksmith Blues.
Morse’s final recording was “Morse Code,” for Capitol in 1957. She did continue to perform occasionally after that, often with the Ray McKinley Band.
Source: James Nadal