Constance Foore Connee Boswell was an American female vocalist born in Kansas City but raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. With her sisters, Martha and Helvetia Vet Boswell, she performed in the 1930s as The Boswell Sisters and became a highly influential singing group during this period via recordings and radio. Connee herself is widely considered one of the greatest jazz female vocalists and was a major influence on Ella Fitzgerald who said, My mother brought home one of her records, and I fell in love with it....I tried so hard to sound just like her.
In 1936, Connee's sisters retired and Connee continued on as a solo artist (having also recorded solos during her years with the group).
The Boswells came to be well known locally while still in their early teens, making appearances in New Orleans theaters and radio. They made their first recordings for Victor Records in 1925, which included Cryin' Blues where Connee is featured singing in the style of her early influence, the African American singer Mamie Smith. The Boswell Sisters became stage professionals that year when they were tapped to fill in for an act at New Orleans' Orpheum Theatre. They received an invitation to come to Chicago and perform in 1928 and honed their act on the Western Vaudeville Circuit. When their tour ended they traveled to San Francisco. The hotel that had been recommended had a less than savory reputation, and the man at the desk suggested that these three young ladies might be better off in another hotel. That man, Harry Leedy, would later become their manager on a handshake and become a permanent part of Connee's life as her husband. Harry was also part owner of Decca Records.