ALL-GIRL BANDS ... LED BY MEN
- Al D'Artega's All-Girl Band
- Herb Cook's Swinghearts
- Eddie Durham's All-Star Orchestra [In later years, Eddie Durham explained another motivation for organizing all-female bands -- to avoid being drafted into the military.]
- The Prairie View Coeds
- Count Berni Vici's All-Girl Theater Band
- Virgil Whyte's Musical Sweethearts
|Phil Spitalny's Hour of Charm Orchestra|
ALL-GIRL BANDS ... LED BY WOMEN
Bonnie Wetzel on base, Elaine Leighton on drums and Beryl Booker on piano.
In 1921, Blanche Calloway (the older sister of Cab Calloway) became the first woman to lead any band, the otherwise-all-male Joy Boys. As a bandleader who was both black and female in the 20th century, she battled both racism and sexism. That band broke up in 1930, after which she formed an all-female band in 1940.
FRANCES CARROLL AND THE COQUETTES
DARLINGS OF RHYTHM
GLORIA GAYE ALL-GIRLS BAND
Born Marjorie Newman, Gloria led several all-female orchestras in Gloria Gaye and her Glamour Girls Band. At various times it was also billed as Gloria Gaye and her All-Ladies Orchestra, Gloria Gaye All-Girls Band and Sweet Music and Hot Rhythym. One member was Gracie Cole, who later played in Ivy Benson's all-female band before forming her own in the 50s.
Mary Osborne, Marge Hyams & L'Ana Webster
INTERNATIONAL SWEETHEARTS OF RHYTHM
The Sweethearts were the first integrated all-female band in the country. They were popular in the 40s, when they played places like the Apollo Theater, and for decades after. The group met and began playing while enrolled at the Piney Woods Country Life School in Mississippi in 1938 and by 1941 they turned professional. The band featured some of the best female musicians in the country and, in 1944, Downbeat Magazine named them "America's No. 1 All-Girl Orchestra."
|Click here to listen to International Sweethearts of Rhythm|
SWINGING RAYS OF RHYTHM
It was in early April 1941 that The International Sweethearts of Rhythm and Piney Woods Country Life School parted ways. In January 1941, in an exclusive interview with a Chicago Defender, had talked about The Swinging Rays of Rhythm, which was originally the training group for the Sweethearts -- when the latter group defected, the former group became its replacement"
"It's the largest "all-girl" sepia dance band in the world. The Rays have seventeen girls--a saxophone sextet....All of the Rays are versatile and full of their music. They are still happy little sepia junior debs, growing and developing in a school atmosphere and already called the greatest of all girl bands ["'Swinging Rays of Rhythm' Is Newest, Hottest Band on Tour," Chicago Defender, January 21, 1941, p. 20].
ADA LEONARD'S ALL AMERICAN GIRLS
RITA RIO AND HER RHYTHM GIRLS
RITA RIO AND HER RHYTHM GIRLS
Eunice Westmoreland (aka Donna Drake) was born in 1914. She had her all-girl orchestra from the 1930s to the 1940s. As with Ina Ray Hutton and her Melodears, Rita was the focal point of the outfit being shapely, energetic and good looking -- always keeping the attention on her and drawing in the crowds. She married American costume designer, William Travilla, in 1944. The couple remained married until her death in 1989.
|Rita Rio and Her Rhythm Girls|
THELMA WHITE AND HER ALL-GIRL ORCHESTRA
One of the all-female bands of the Foxhole Circuit, They continued to perform for several years after the war ended. Today Thelma White is best recognized as Mae Coleman in the movie Reefer Madness (1936).
|Thelma White and Her All-Girl Orchestra|
- Joy Cayler Orchestra
- Frances Grey's Queens of Swing
- Nita King and Her Queens of Rhythm
- The Marilyn Merle All-Girl Orchestra
- Betty McGuire's Sub-Debs
- Jean Parks and Her All-Girl Band
- Sharon Rogers All-Girl Band