Lil Green was a dynamic performer and recording artist that enjoyed a short but successful career touring theaters and clubs and recording for major labels as RCA, Aladdin and Atlantic. At the time of her death in 1954, she was only 35.
Born in Mississippi but growing up in Chicago, Green began to sing in clubs in the mid-30s. By the end of the decade she was appearing regularly at some of the city’s best-known nightspots, and was recording with artists such as Big Bill Broonzy, who wrote several songs for her, including ‘Country Boy Blues’ and ‘My Mellow Man’.
Green composed some well-known songs herself, among them ‘Romance In The Dark’ later covered by Mary Ann McCall, Jeri Southern and Billie Holiday. In the early 40s she toured with Tiny Bradshaw and Luis Russell, and was a big hit in the black theater circuit, as well as on the radio.
One of Green’s most popular recordings, “Why Don’t You Do Right was heard by Peggy Lee, who was then with Benny Goodman And His Orchestra. Their cover version, though pale in comparison, was an enormous hit, thus further shading Green’s fortunes.
Although signed by Atlantic Records in 1951, she was in poor health and died in 1954.