Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Janet Brace R.I.P.?

Every once in a while I set off on a cyber search for jazz singer Janet Brace. It's been a source of major annoyance to me that I cannot uncover her earthly denouement, especially because she is from my home town of Charleston, West Virginia. This good ol' Charleston girl's major claim to fame ("I'm sooooo prouddddd") is that, in 1953, she recorded and introduced the standard-ish "Teach Me Tonight" several months before Jo Stafford's eventual hit version.
The last time I was buycomb (i.e. "back home") I even made a visit to the West Virgina Cultural Center (no wise cracks please) to see if they had a file on her, but to no avail. And even noted Charleston-born singer Jennie Smith, and a fine one at that, had never heard of Brace, which seems strange because we're not exactly talkin' ---must be the Sarah Palin influence creepin' in---about a throbbin' megalopolis here.

And then tonight---with too much time on my hands---I thought I'd give it another shot, and thus, for what it’s worth, I came across this recent post on

"I am seeing [regionalese for "dating"] a woman whos [sic] mother was Janets [sic] first cousin and she [the cousin or Janet?] grew up knowing her as a young child. Janet moved to Florida in later years and then ended up in Costa Rica later in life, ultimately returning to Florida to live with her daughter before she passed away."

Does the West Virginia-based writer mean that the daughter passed away instead of Janet? Inasmuch as concision when it comes to the English language is perhaps not that state's educational system's strongest suit. . .alas, probably not.


Anonymous said...

Janet Brace's lone recording has just been reissued in Japan. Dusty Groove in Chicago has it. The price is higher than their usual Japanese import price, but it will be out of print again very soon and demanding exhorbitant prices again. So get it while you can.

Bill, maybe she deserves another more detailed essay to celebrate this reissue.

Anonymous said...

Bill - How do you know Janet Brace? We were very good friends. It is so wonderful to be able to see her mentioned and now to be able to buy her album. I only had a crummy tape recording.

Pam McAllister said...

Bill, I just read your blogs and understand a little more now. Janet Brace was her professional name. She was born Margaret Brace, but was known as Jan after her short career. Jan went to NY when she was 17 and started working immediately. She married a drummer, Don McLean, and had 2 children. She said rock and roll killed her career. She moved to Florida and she and Don raised their children there. She was widowed early and retired in Costa Rica. I met her there. Jan died about 17 years ago. If I can provide you with additional information, please let me know. Jan was quite the character and is remembered fondly by so many.