The world knew her as Ramona and her Grand Piano when she appeared and recorded with Paul Whiteman and small groups of his sidemen. She had an intriguingly deep voice and a precise although loose piano style. Her 1932-35 recordings are treasures (I think the ones under her own name were all contained on one TOM CD) but she isn’t as well as known as she should be.
But here she is on film, announced as THE PRINCESS OF JAZZ, singing STRAIGHT FROM THE SHOULDER (RIGHT FROM THE HEART), lifting her eyes to heaven in the most winsome manner; Con Conrad’s carpe diem, WHY NOT? (“Not to love is no existence”) after having been introduced by Robert Benchley; in the third clip, from Dick Powell’s 1935 THANKS A MILLION, we see the entire Whiteman Orchestra, with Roy Bargy at the second piano and the King’s Men, leading to her performance of BELLE OF NEW ORLEANS.
Here she is with the Whiteman Orchestra in 1934, singing both choruses of I GUESS I’LL HAVE TO CHANGE MY PLAN:
and the 1932 LET’S PUT OUT THE LIGHTS AND GO TO SLEEP:
LOVE THY NEIGHBOR (apparently from a 1934 broadcast):
The cautionary tale, ANNIE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE (hear her lilt at the start of the second chorus):
The 1935 EV’RY NOW AND THEN (with Jack and Charlie Teagarden, Benny Bonacio, Dick McDonough):
And IF THE MOON TURNS GREEN, from the same year:
Distinctive, worldly, and sweet, no?
For an extraordinary biographical essay on Ramona — written by musician and scholar Peter Mintun — click here – one of the best pieces of enjoyable musicology ever.
May your happiness increase!