Greg Poppleton

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30 March 2021

(Until 30 March)

Dinah Washington Forged Her Own Path – Phantom Dancer 30 March 2021

Dinah Washington, The Queen of the Blues, the most popular black female recording artist of the 1950s, is this week’s Phantom Dancer feature.

As an artist, she was one of the most beloved and controversial singers of the mid-20th century.

  • Beloved, because she had a great voice.
  • Controversial, because she didn’t seek approval from ‘the gatekeepers’. And as you’ll hear in her Birdland radio broadcast on this week’s Phantom Dancer, she didn’t hold back from telling radio announcers to shut up or stop being corny.

The Phantom Dancer – your non-stop mix of swing and jazz from live 1920s-60s radio and TV hosted by me, Greg Poppleton.

Enjoy a whole library of Phantom Dancer mixes online now at

This show will be online after 2pm AEST, Tuesday 30 March at


Dinah Washington was the stage name of Ruth Lee Jones. She was a jazz singer but also sang blues, R&B, and pop music.

As a child she sang gospel music in church and played piano, directing her church choir in her teens and sang lead with the first female gospel singers formed by Sallie Martin, co-founder of the Gospel Singers Convention. She joined the gospel choir after she won an amateur contest at Chicago’s Regal Theater, singing, ‘I Can’t Face the Music’.


At 15, she started singing in clubs. By 1941–42 she was performing at the Sherman Hotel in Chicago with Fats Waller.

She was playing at the Three Deuces, a jazz club, when a friend took her to hear Billie Holiday at the Garrick Stage Bar. Club owner Joe Sherman was so impressed with her singing of “I Understand”, backed by the Cats and the Fiddle, who were appearing in the Garrick’s upstairs room, that he hired her. During her year at the Garrick, she sang upstairs while Holiday performed downstairs room. Sherman gave her her stage name.

Lionel Hampton came to hear Dinah at the Garrick and invited her to join his orchestra She made her recording debut singing Evil Gal Blues, written by Leonard Feather (who wrote Blow Top Blues you’ll hear Dinah sing in this week’s show, live on 1952 radio) and backed by Hampton and musicians from his band. Both that record and its follow-up, ‘Salty Papa Blues’, made the Billboard “Harlem Hit Parade” in 1944.

In December 1945 she made a series of twelve recordings for Apollo Records, 10 of which were issued, featuring the Lucky Thompson All Stars. She stayed with Lionel Hampton’s orchestra until 1946.


Her first solo recording, Fats Waller’s ‘Ain’t Misbehavin”, was another hit. Between 1948 and 1955, she had 27 R&B top-10 hits, making her one of the most popular and successful singers of the period. ‘Am I Asking Too Much?’ (1948) and ‘Baby Get Lost’ (1949) reached Number 1 on the R&B chart. Her version of Johnny Green’s 1930s hit, ‘I Wanna Be Loved’ (1950) crossed over to reach Number 22 on the US pop chart. Her hit recordings included blues, standards, novelties, pop covers, and even a version of Hank Williams’ ‘Cold, Cold Heart’ (R&B Number 3, 1951).

At the same time as her biggest popular success, she also recorded sessions with many leading jazz musicians, including last week’s Phantom Dancer feature artist, Clifford Brown, Clark Terry, Cannonball Adderley and Ben Webster.

In 1950, Dinah Washington performed at the sixth avalcade of Jazz concert held at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. Also featured on the same day were Lionel Hampton, PeeWee Crayton’s Orchestra, Roy Milton and his Orchestra plus Tiny Davis and Her Hell Divers. 16,000 were reported to be in attendance and the concert ended early because of a fracas while Lionel Hampton played ‘Flying High’. Washington returned to perform at the twelfth Cavalcade of Jazz also at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles in 1956. Performing that day were Little Richard, The Mel Williams Dots, Julie Stevens, Chuck Higgin’s Orchestra, Bo Rhambo, Willie Hayden & Five Black Birds, The Premiers, Gerald Wilson and His 20-Piece Recording Orchestra and Jerry Gray and his Orchestra.

In 1959, she had her first top ten pop hit, with a version of ‘What a Diff’rence a Day Makes’. She followed it up with a version of Irving Gordon’s ‘Unforgettable’ and then two highly successful duets in 1960 with Brook Benton, ‘Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)’, which you’ll hear on this week’s show from a 1960 aircheck and ‘A Rockin’ Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall in Love)’.

Her last big hit was ‘September in the Rain’, in 1961.

She won the Grammy for Best Rhythm & Blues Performance, 1959, for ‘What a Diff’rence a Day Makes’.


Play List – The Phantom Dancer
107.3 2SER-FM Sydney LISTEN ONLINE Community Radio Network Show CRN #483

107.3 2SER Tuesday 30 March 2021 12:04 – 2:00pm (+11 hours GMT) and Saturdays 5 – 5:55pm National Program 5GTR Mt Gambier Monday 2:30 – 3:30am 3MBR Murrayville Monday 3 – 4am 4NAG Keppel FM Monday 3 – 4am 2SEA Eden Monday 3 – 4am 2MIA Griffith Monday 3 – 4pm 2BAR Edge FM Bega Monday 3 – 4pm 3VKV Alpine Radio Monday 6 – 7pm 7MID Oatlands Tuesday 8 – 9pm 1ART ArtsoundFM Canberra Friday 10 – 11am 2ARM Armidale Friday 12 – 1pm 5LCM Lofty FM Adelaide Friday 1 – 2pm 4RPH Brisbane Sunday 3 – 4am 7LTN Launceston Sunday 5 – 6am 3MGB Mallacoota Sunday 5 – 6am 6GME Radio Goolarri Broome Sunday 5 – 6am 3BBR West Gippsland Sunday 5 – 6pm

Set 1
One Night Stand Radio 
Artistry in Rhythm (theme) + I Know That You Know
Stan Kenton Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’ Cafe Rouge Hotel Pennsylvania NYC AFRS Re-broadcast 27 Sep 1945
I’m In Love With Someone
Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra (voc) Glagys Tell
‘One Night Stand’ Panther Room Hotel Sherman Chicago AFRS Re-broadcast Mar 1944
Jan Savitt Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’ Palladium Ballroom Hollywood AFRS Re-broadcast 4 Oct 1945
Set 2
Jimmy Grier 
Music in the Moonlight (theme) + Just Friends
Jimmy Grier Orchestra (voc) Dick Webster
Cocoanut Grove Ambassador Hotel TRANSCO Radio Transcription 1932
Save The Last Dance For Me
Jimmy Grier Orchestra (voc) Donald Novis
Cocoanut Grove Ambassador Hotel TRANSCO Radio Transcription 1932
The More You Hurt Me The More You Make Me Care + Music in the Moonlight (theme)
Jimmy Grier Orchestra (voc) Margaret Lawrence
Cocoanut Grove Ambassador Hotel TRANSCO Radio Transcription 1932
Set 3
1950s Jazz Radio 
Open + Without a Word of Warning
Arnett Cobb
‘Stars in Jazz’ Birdland WNBC NBC NY 2 Jul 1952
Open + Small Hotel / All The Things You Are / Rose Room
Larry Green
Starlight Roof Hotel Chase KMOX CBS St Louis 1958
Open + Too Marvelous
Erroll Garner
Basin Street WCBS CBS NYC 6 May 1956
Set 4
Dinah Washington 
No Love, No Nothin’
Dinah Washington (voc) Lionel Hampton Orchestra
‘One Night Stand’ Traianon Ballroom Southgate Ca AFRS Re-broadcast 16 Jun 1944
Mixed Emotions + Blow Top Blues
Dinah Washington
‘The Birdland Show’ WJZ ABC NYC 21 Jun 1952
You’ve Got What It Takes
Dinah Washington and Brook Benton
Aircheck WKBW Buffalo NY 1960
Set 5
Erskine Hawkins Commercial Discs 
Rockin’ Rollers’ Jubilee
Erskine Hawkins Orchestra
Comm Rec New York City 12 Sep 1938
No Soap
Erskine Hawkins Orchestra
Comm Rec New York City 14 May 1939
A Study in Brown
Erskine Hawkins Orchestra
Comm Rec New York City 20 Oct 1938
I Hadn’t Anyone Till You
Erskine Hawkins Orchestra (voc) Dolores Brown
Comm Rec New York City 20 Dec 1939
Set 6
1930s Swing Radio 
Dixieland Band
Benny Goodman Orchestra (voc) Helen Ward
Palomar Ballroom KFI NBC Red 22 Aug 1935
You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth
Bunny Berrigan Orchestra
Paradise Restaurant WABC CBS NY 10 Apr 1938
Kiss Me Again
Bunny Berrigan Orchestra (voc) Gail Reese
Paradise Restaurant WABC CBS NY 10 Apr 1938
You Do The Darndest Things, Baby
Count Basie Orchestra (voc) Jimmy Rushing
Chatterbox Hotel William Penn WCAE NBC Red Pittsburgh 10 Jan 1937
Set 7
Dorsey Brothers Orchestra 1956 
Intro + Song of India
Dorsey Brothers’ Orchestra
Cafe Rouge Hotel Statler WRCA NBC NY 1956
Ridin’ Around in the Rain
Dorsey Brothers’ Orchestra (voc) Dolly Houston
Cafe Rouge Hotel Statler WRCA NBC NY 1956
Sunny Side of the Street
Dorsey Brothers’ Orchestra (voc) Lynn Roberts
Cafe Rouge Hotel Statler WRCA NBC NY 1956
Just For Taking Bows
Dorsey Brothers’ Orchestra
Cafe Rouge Hotel Statler WRCA NBC NY 1956
Set 8
Carson Robinson Buckaroos 
Careless Love (theme) + Home on the Range
Carson Robinson Buckaroos
‘Ford RandG Used Cars’ Radio Transcription 1939
Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie + Down on the Levee
Carson Robinson Buckaroos
‘Ford RandG Used Cars’ Radio Transcription 1939
Goin’ Back to my Good Ol’ Texas Home + Golden Slippers
Carson Robinson Buckaroos
‘Ford RandG Used Cars’ Radio Transcription 1939
Wabash Moon + Boots and Saddles + Close
Carson Robinson Buckaroos
‘Ford RandG Used Cars’ Radio Transcription 1939
All Gigs
12:04 pm
2SER 107.3 Sydney

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