All About Jazz

Home » Musicians » Esther Phillips

Esther Phillips Esther Phillips

The late Esther Phillips unquestionably falls into the realm of great singers who never received recognition for what was a lifelong contribution to contemporary music.

Born Esther Mae Jones in Galveston, Texas, she began singing in church as a young child. When her parents divorced, she divided time between her father in Houston and her mother in the Watts area of Los Angeles. It was in Los Angeles, in 1949, that her sister entered her in a talent show at a nightclub belonging to blues man Johnny Otis. So impressed was Otis with the 13-year-old that he brought her into the studio for a recording session with Modern Records and added her to his live revue. Billed as Little Esther, she scored her first success when she was teamed with the vocal quartet the Robins (who later evolved into the Coasters) on the hit single “Double Crossin' Blues.”

It topped the R&B charts in early 1950 and paved the way for “Mistrustin' Blues,” “Misery,” “Cupid Boogie,” and “Deceivin' Blues.” In 1951, Little Esther and Otis had a falling out, reportedly over money, which led to her departure from his show, In 1954, she returned to Houston to live with her father, having experimented with hard drugs developing a definite addiction to heroin. Short on money, Little Esther worked in small nightclubs around the South, punctuated by periodic hospital stays in Lexington, Kentucky, stemming from her addiction.

Read more

Tags

Album Review
Read more articles

Photos

Albums

Album Performance by Esther Phillips

Performance

CTI Masterworks
2011

buy
 

Anthology

Double Moon Records
2003

buy
 

What A Diff

Epic Records
2002

buy
 

The Rising Sun...

Double Moon Records
1995

buy
 

The Best Of Esther...

Double Moon Records
1990

buy
 

The Complete Savoy...

Double Moon Records
1984

buy

Similar

Frank Sinatra Frank Sinatra
voice / vocals
Dinah Washington Dinah Washington
voice / vocals
Gil Scott-Heron Gil Scott-Heron
voice / vocals
Aretha Franklin Aretha Franklin
voice / vocals
James Brown James Brown
voice / vocals
Etta Jones Etta Jones
voice / vocals
Etta James Etta James
voice / vocals
Georgie Fame Georgie Fame
keyboards
Lizz Wright Lizz Wright
voice / vocals
Ernestine Anderson Ernestine Anderson
voice / vocals
Phyllis Hyman Phyllis Hyman
voice / vocals
Marlena Shaw Marlena Shaw
voice / vocals
Ruth Brown Ruth Brown
voice / vocals
Irma Thomas Irma Thomas
voice / vocals
Big Maybelle Big Maybelle
voice / vocals
LaVern Baker LaVern Baker
voice / vocals

Shop Amazon

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.