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Connee Boswell (December 3, 1907 – October 11, 1976) was an American singer. Together with his sisters, Martha and Helvetia “Vet” Boswell, he was part of the group The Boswell Sisters in the 1930s, a prodigious formation in recordings and radio performances. Connee is considered one of the most important jazz vocalists, being an influence for Ella Fitzgerald.
In 1936 his sisters retired and Connee continued his solo career, although in his years in the group he had already recorded material outside the training.
His full name was Constance Foore Boswell , and he was born in Kansas City, Missouri, although he grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Boswell sisters became locally known as teenagers, performing in theaters and radio stations in New Orleans. His first recordings, for Victor Records, took place in 1925, one of the tracks recorded being “Cryin ‘Blues”, singing Connee in the style of his first influential singer, the African-American Mamie Smith. The Boswell Sisters became professionals that same year, performing at the Orpheum Theater in New Orleans. In 1928 they were invited to go to Chicago, performing at the Western Vaudeville Circuit. When the tour ended, they traveled to San Francisco (California), where Boswell met Harry Leedy, who would be the agent of the trio and later marry her.
The Boswell Sisters performed on the radio in Los Angeles, and made complementary performances for some sound film productions, such as the 1930 title “Under Montana Skies.” They did not achieve fame throughout the country, however, until they moved to New York in 1930 and began to perform on nationally broadcast radio programs. After a few recordings with Okeh Records, they worked for Brunswick Records from 1931 to 1935, and in 1935 the trio received a number 1 with the song “The Object of My Affection”.
In 1936 the sisters signed a contract with Decca Records and, after making three albums, the group dissolved. However, Connee Boswell continued as a solo singer working for Decca. Connee Boswell had been an arranger (harmonic arrangements were all of them) and a composer of the trio.
Although throughout his career with The Boswell Sisters, and well into the 1940s, his name was spelled “Connie”, she changed it to Connee to facilitate the signing of autographs, made difficult by their physical problems. Connee sang from a wheelchair – or in a sitting position – throughout his career, due to polio or an accident that occurred in childhood (sources differ). Although Boswell did not keep his physical situation secret, the public did not notice his situation. During the Second World War she tried to travel on the tours of the United Service Organizations, but did not get permission because the Army considered that a singer in a wheelchair was not appropriate to raise the morale of the troops.
Connee Boswell was one of Bing Crosby’s favorite collaborators, both often singing a duet on the radio and recording several hits together in the 1930s and 1940s. Boswell, Crosby, and Eddie Cantor recorded a version of Alexander’s Ragtime Band that reached the number 1 in 1938. In 1939 Crosby and Boswell recorded three duets that reached the top 12 of the Billboard magazine. “An Apple For The Teacher” reached number 2.
Boswell also scored several dozen solo hits, including “Moonlight Moon” in 1942. Boswell’s career declined in the 1950s, but he still recorded occasionally and appeared on several television shows, including a performance as a regular on the show. 1959 series “Pete Kelly’s Blues”.
Connee Boswell died of stomach cancer in 1976 in New York City. He was 68 years old. She was buried in the Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York.
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