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Bea Wain

Songbird Bea Wain, photo courtesy of Ms. Wain.

Swing Ladies Swing

A series featuring unique interviews with the top echelon of female vocalists from the 1940s and 1950s. These singers provide a window on popular culture of that time through music, and bring that understanding into the present. The popular music of the 1940s and 50s resonates both loudly and subtly into contemporary times, and has proved to be a wellspring of enthusiasm for listeners of all ages.

Instantly recognizeable, this is the music that truly was, and continues to be, the soundtrack of our lives. In a rare set of interviews, these singing stars, now mostly in their 80s, share their personal stories about the development of that soundtrack. Reported by Amanda Wilde.

Swing Ladies Swing: Bea Wain

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Songbird Bea Wain first gained fame in the 1930s as the featured singer with Larry Clinton and his orchestra. She could swing through ballads, blues, and jazz; her voice covers the spectrum of popular music. Bea's distinctive delivery and sparkling personality made her a fan favorite, and in 1939, a Billboard magazine poll named her the year's most popular female band vocalist. She began recording solo in 1939 and in the 1940s embarked on a radio career when she and husband Andre Baruch became Mr. and Mrs. Music, hosting a daily live broadcast. Bea Wain's extraordinary voice continues to resonate into the 21st century. This interview took place in February 2007, shortly before Bea's 90th birthday. Produced by KUOW's Amanda Wilde. More »

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Swing Ladies Swing: Keely Smith

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Keely Smith never thought she’d travel outside her hometown of Norfolk, Virginia, much less perform worldwide. Then she met and sang for bandleader Louis Prima. Their now-famous collaboration combined two original voices with infectious uptempo big band sounds. Together, they took home one of the first Grammy awards ever given for their 1958 performance of That Old Black Magic. Keely Smith went on to a successful solo career, performing at President Kennedy's inauguration, receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Cherokee Medal of Honor, and a Touchstone award for her contributions to the music industry. In recent years, she has produced several critically acclaimed recordings, including the Grammy nominated Keely Sings Sinatra. She continues to perform to the delight of audiences around the country. KUOW's Amanda Wilde interviewed Keely Smith between singing engagements on August 22th, 2006. More »

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Swing Ladies Swing: Jo Stafford

Thursday, April 13, 2006

One of the great voices in the history of American popular music is that of Jo Stafford. Alongside her husband, first class arranger and conductor Paul Weston, Ms. Stafford recorded throughout the 1940s and 1950s for Capitol and Columbia Records. Over twenty five years of her career Jo Stafford sold more than 25 million records. She’s still enormously popular, even timeless. In a rare appearance, Jo Stafford spoke to KUOW’s Amanda Wilde from her home in California in March of 2006. More »

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Swing Ladies Swing: Kay Starr

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Popular singer Kay Starr was born in Oklahoma and raised in Dallas. In her teens she became a band singer with Joe Venuti and through the 1940s she worked with the bands of Glenn Miller, Bob Crosby and Charlie Barnet. She signed a solo contract with newly formed Capitol records in 1947 and recorded her biggest hits on that label, including 1953s 'Wheel of Fortune,' her first gold record. A powerful and versatile performer, Kay moves through jazz, pop, R&B, and western swing with equal ease. Kay Starr now lives in Bel Air and spoke to KUOW's Amanda Wilde from Southern California. More »

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Swing Ladies Swing: Margaret Whiting, Part Two

Thursday, December 29, 2005

As a singer on the rise in the 1940s and 50’s Margaret Whiting introduced some of the greatest standards in American popular music. She has recorded more than five hundred songs, including twelve gold records, and introduced some of the greatest pop standards of all time, such as Moonlight In Vermont and Come Rain Or Come Shine. This interview documents her rise to stardom, her long association with friend, mentor, and songwriting legend Johnny Mercer, and how the music of the postwar era continues to direct her life today. Now 81, she still is active in the music community, and can be persuaded to sing every now and then. This interview was recorded November 2, 2005, from Margaret’s home in New York City. More »

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Swing Ladies Swing: Margaret Whiting, Part One

Thursday, December 22, 2005

As a singer on the rise in the 1940s and 50s, Margaret Whiting introduced some of the greatest pop standards of all time, such as Moonlight In Vermont and Come Rain Or Come Shine. This week, 81-year-old Whiting will talk about her rise to stardom, her long association with friend, mentor, and songwriting legend Johnny Mercer, and how the music of the postwar era continues to direct her life today. KUOW’s Amanda Wilde interviewed Whiting in November of 2005 at her home in New York City. More »

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