Tag Archives: Georgia

“Last Mile Blues” b/w “I Can’t Quit That Man” by Ida Cox and her All-Star Orchestra. Okeh 6405. Recorded in New York City, 12/20/40.

Image courtesy of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Archive of Recorded Sound.

Image courtesy of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Archive of Recorded Sound.

 

Ida Cox didn’t run away and join the circus as a teenager. Instead, the small-town Georgia girl ran away and joined a traveling minstrel tent show at the age of fourteen. Experience in that field lead to the better-paying vaudeville circuit as a singer and comedienne. She had her Paramount Records debut in 1923, with fellow female musician Lovie Austin accompanying her on piano. This is her very first record, “Graveyard Dream Blues.”

 

Ida was especially good at bringing songs about death to life. 1925’s “Coffin Blues” is an excellent example. This song features future husband Jesse Crump on harmonium, adding an especially funereal element to the sound.

 

 

Ida was able to parlay her touring experience into managing her own road show, which was pretty unusual for a woman at that time. And she either wrote or co-wrote most of the songs she recorded, including this number that, had she lived long enough, would have earned her a fortune in bumper sticker royalties. This is “Wild Women Don’t Have the Blues.”

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45: “Ask Me What You Want” b/w “I Just Can’t Stand It’ by Millie Jackson. Polydor 2066 187. German re-release. Recorded in New York City in 1972.

Image courtesy of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Archive of Recorded Sound.

Image courtesy of The Rodgers & Hammerstein Archive of Recorded Sound.

Millie Jackson was born in Thomson, Georgia in 1944. Her mother died when Millie was very young, and her father started over in Newark, New Jersey. By her mid-teens, Millie was living with an aunt in Brooklyn. Her singing career started when she was twenty years old; some friends dared Millie to enter a talent contest in a Harlem nightclub, and she won. Club dates followed, and by 1971, Millie had a hit on the R&B charts with her first single, “A Child of God (Hard to Believe).”

Powerful stuff, very critical of people and the doubt in the almighty that they inspire. But this was kind of a misleading start to Millie’s career.

1972’s “Ask Me What You Want” is a little closer to what she’s known for—straight talk between lovers, open communication for the betterment of the couple. But we aren’t quite there yet.

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