Thursday, April 13, 2006

Lucy Ann Polk

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A reader writes in:

Bill,
Recently became a Lucy Ann Polk fan. When searching the web to find some info about her biography & discography I found the entry in your blog from September 18, 2005. You reported that you've met her and heard her sing. There is nothing about her life on the web, no biography anywhere (as far as Google results are concerned). So, can you provide me with a bio or some info? Many thanks in advance!
Best,
Siegfried

Dear Siegfried,
I don't know a lot about Lucy Ann. However, here's what I DO know. She began in show business in the mid-1940s as part of a singing family group, brothers and sisters I think. Her maiden name is Polk. They were called the Town Criers and joined the Bobby Sherwood orchestra in the mid-1940s. Floating around, there are radio transcriptions on commercial CDs of their performances with Sherwood. Also, she sang and recorded for quite a few years with the Les Brown Orchestra, off and on again beginning in 1950. I believe there are a number of Columbia Les Brown recordings featuring Lucy Ann. To the best of my knowledge, the only total solo album by her is Lucky Lucy Ann (1957), easily obtainable on the net. It is an excellent recording, with arr. by Marty Paich (you probably have that one). There is also an album with a number of performances by Lucy Ann on a CD entitled The Dave Pell Octet Plays Burke and Van Heusen. I have attempted to buy it---it is alleged to be in print---but have not been successful at obtaining it. Amazon.com claims that they "ship in one to two business days," but don't you believe it.

She has been married. Divorced? No children. I would guess that she is in her mid-seventies. A very, very sweet and delightful person. I cannot emphasize that too much. I see her once a year at a friend's Labor Day Party. I look forward to encountering her once again there this fall. She is now happily retired. I don't know too much more to tell you, except that amongst cognoscenti of jazz-based singing, and by her peers, she is considered---her semi-obscurity notwithstanding---to have few equals.

BTW there is a singer in Japan, I forget her last name, let's say it's "LucyAnn Kato," who bills herself as "Lucky Lucy Ann" and who does a Lucy Ann Polk tribute show!!! (And some of my friends wonder why I love that country so much.) I think she has even recorded a CD salute to Lucy Ann, but my memory is a bit hazy about that. I will tell Lucy about this, next Labor Day. I can't wait to experience her delighted reaction. Hope that helps.
Best,
Bill
(hear Lucy Ann ---mp3 links for a limited time only)

5 comments:

Lee Hartsfeld said...

As I type this, there's a 1959 Polk LP on eBay--"Easy Livin'," Interlude 1004. Bidding is past $50 with the reserve bid not yet met.

Fourteen hours to go.

I'm almost sure Lucy recorded with Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey on the Bell label. Google, however, isn't helping me confirm this....

Lee

Anonymous said...

I believe that The Town Criers, one of the great vocal groups of the 40's, were brothers and sisters. They were from Idaho, and sang with Kay Kyser in 1944. I have a number of radio transcriptions of the group (with Kyser and others) from that period. They (including Lucy Ann, of course)were featured in the 1945 film "Radio Stars on Parade." There is a DVD from Swing Era (I got it from Netflix) that has alot of Snader Telescriptions of the Les Brown band, including Lucy Ann singing a great version of "I've Got The World on a String;" This from about 1950-51. She was still singing with Brown on his famous Hollywood Palladiun album from 1953.
I recall that a pal who is THE expert on Soundies told me that Lucy Ann and her sister and brothers went by another name as a vocal group before they named themselves The Town Criers, but I can't remember that previous name.

Anonymous said...

CORRECTION!
Gordon, Vernon, Elva, and Lucy Ann Polk (brothers and sisters) sang from the time they were children on radio and at live events in Idaho. They were known as The Four Polks. They were still known by that name when they went came to California and subsequently went with Bobby Sherwood's band.

Bobby ran a contest to rename them, and it was the piano player that came up with The Town Criers. They were never known as The Lamplighters.

Another group in the 50's started using the name Town Criers, unfortunately, causing confusion with the real Town Criers.

Jimmy Polk said...

Lucy Ann Polk and family are truly amazing! But.. one could say I am a bit biased since I am also a Polk. In fact I have four kids ages 13, 11, 9, and 7 (2 boys and 2 girls) who also love to play and sing together. It's kind of a neat parallel to "The Four Polk's" or "Town Criers". I am feeling inspired to turn them on to some 40's jazz!

tom bush said...

I have been slowly researching my family, but didn't have enough information to look up the polks. Lucy Ann, Gordon, Vernon and Elva were in a photo we had on our mantle for years. Mildred Young was my grandmother and sister of lucy ann's mother. Brother John met Vernon in California once, but no news of the rest of the "town criers"