A while back we featured singer/songwriter Jimmie Skinner, who was a force in country music during the 1950s and 1960s, not only as a performer but also behind the scenes. Today we’re spotlighting Connie Hall, a lady who got her start as Skinner’s singing partner but went on to a brief but successful career as a solo star.
Being born in rural Kentucky but growing up in Cincinnati meant that Connie Hall (b. Inez Kerr) had a lot in common with Skinner, who’d followed the same route a couple of decades earlier. That might have helped her get a job at his Cincinnati music center while still in her teens, but she didn’t get a chance to get into the performing side of things in those early days. Instead she built her experience up by working in radio and occasionally on local TV, sometimes as a weathergirl. After a few years the now-married singer became a regular on Skinner’s own radio station, and then finally made her record debut in 1957 as part of a singing duo with her mentor.
But even though her recording career began as part of a duet, it was as a soloist that Connie Hall made her mark. Although none of her records hit the top of the charts, she had several solid hits over the next few years. Among her biggest records were “It’s Not Wrong,” “Fool Me Once,” and “Sleep Baby Sleep.” She was also a skilled songwriter, and a popular guest on the Grand Ole Opry and the Louisiana Hayride.
Things inevitably began winding down in the late 1960s, and she eventually retired from performing and moved with her husband to Louisville. If she’s still around she would now be in her eighties.
Connie Hall – “Fool Me Once” (You can also access music in left column.)
One of the longest-lasting professional — and personal — collaborations in music was the one enjoyed by the jazz duo of Jackie & Roy. It began in the late 1940s, when singer Jackie Cain and singer/pianist Roy Kral first met up and began what would be well over a half-century as a couple, along the way becoming one of the most respected musical acts around.
The twosome hailed from the same part of the country — Cain from Milwaukee and Kral from Chicago — but that probably didn’t have a lot to do with them ending up in Charlie Ventura‘s band in the late 1940s. Cain was still in her teens and relatively inexperienced at the time, while Kral was a few years older but also early in his career. (His younger sister Irene Kral would later have a very successful career of her own, although it ended prematurely when she died at age 46.)
It wasn’t long before the canny Ventura was spotlighting the duo as a featured act, not only on stage but also in the recording studio, where they were front and center on some of the band’s best-selling records. Eventually the now-married pair moved on to other opportunities, including hosting a Chicago TV show in the early 1950s, before finally relocating to Las Vegas later in the decade.
After spending a few years entertaining in Vegas, the twosome made what would probably be the most significant move of their lives when they relocated to New York in 1963. It would be their home base for decades to come, as the couple became a familiar and beloved part of the music scene. As the years passed they appeared in a number of venues, while continuing to make records for their many fans. They even found the time to do some TV commercials, continuing to work until Kral’s death in 2002 at age 80. At last report, Jackie Cain is still around and is now in her eighties.
Jackie & Roy w/ Charlie Ventura’s Band – “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” (You can also access music in left column.)
I have to confess that I haven’t been particularly eager to add a new Special Feature to the ol’ GMC, especially if I didn’t see a way to bring something different on board. But then I woke up today with an earworm, and along with it came inspiration — it was a natural subject for a new Special Feature.
An earworm, for those who don’t know, is a song (or a piece of one) that seems to get stuck in your head and just won’t go away. It can be a good song but it’s often one that isn’t particularly noteworthy, except for its ability to burrow its way in and stay there.
Of course, I’m not trying to claim credit for this idea. Earworms have been talked about for years — in fact, there are blogs dedicated to them. But they still seem like a good subject for a new Special Feature on the GMC, and so I won’t run short of ideas for new posts maybe some of you will tell me about your earworms. (I already have a couple of candidates from your comments on earlier posts. I’ve also found two previous posts that are about my own earworms, so have added them to the Earworms link in the left column.)
But back to today’s earworm, a piece with the deceptively simple title of ‘Rose.” It’s a song that’s actually pretty obscure these days and I don’t think it was ever a big hit. It was written a half-century ago by poet/songwriter/singer Rod McKuen, and is probably best-known as performed by Glenn Yarbrough. But even though most of the song is a little fuzzy for me, the chorus is what I hear endlessly in my head.
‘That’s okay, Rose would say. Don’t you worry none. We’ll have good times bye and bye, next Fall when the work’s all done.’
Glenn Yarbrough – “Rose” (You can also access music in left column.)