Join me as I take you on a vintage inspired musical journey! Here are five retro and vintage crooners to help you enjoy your daily commute.
As a stay-at-home mom, I find myself in the car more often then not.
Between dropping my kids off at three different schools, grocery shopping, errands, visiting friends, picking the kids back up and then after school appointments, I am always in my car.
Personally, I don’t have a problem with driving, but sometime it can get kind of stressful. So to elevate my time in the car I make sure to have my favorite music with me.
Today I am listening to ‘Ella Fitzgerald Sings The Cole Porter Songbook’.
If you have never listened to Ella, you should stop what you are doing (wait, that means you are reading this blog. Ok, wait until you are done with this post) and go to YouTube and search for Ella Fitzgerald.
You will be in for a harmonious treat. Her voice is what I imagine when God speaks.
The first time I heard her voice was in high school.
I was about 16 and I was picking up a friend that I didn’t know very well to take him to a party (I was the designated driver for the night).
It was a beautiful summer evening, the sun was setting and I thought I looked particularly lovely that night, so I was already feeling pretty good.
As I walked up the steps to his apartment I could hear the most enchanting voice coming from inside his house. It was like my soul could feel her voice. I asked the boy who was singing and he replied, ‘Ella Fitzgerald’.
The next day I went out and purchased this album.
I have listened to it through the years and it never ceases to give me goosebumps.
I find favorite books and favorite music to be like old friends: you can go for years without keeping in touch and then suddenly they reappear in your life and it is like no time has past.
So when you find yourself frustrated by your commute, go through your old albums or songs and find one you haven’t listened to in a long time. I bet you find yourself tapping your fingers to the beat instead of twiddling your fingers, waiting for the light to change.
On the other hand, sometimes it is fun to listen to something completely new!
Here are three vintage inspired modern musicians and one retro singer that you might not have heard of before.
I think they are all amazing artists and I really think you will come to love them as much as I do.
Pokey LaFarge is an American gentleman whose charm, vintage-inspired style, and musical talent I have been crushing on since first being introduced to his and band’s music through the blogosphere back in 2013.
Born in Bloomington, Ilinois and now based in St. Louis, Missouri, Mr. LaFarge has already compiled an impressive roster of accomplishments.
As noted on his website, “Pokey LaFarge is a musician, songwriter, bandleader, entertainer, innovator and preservationist, whose well-rounded arsenal of talents has placed him at the forefront of American music.”
I think the site aptly describes my own sense of LaFarge’s musical style as sort of “a creative mix of early jazz, string ragtime, country blues and western swing.”
Though his lyrics, melodies, and style of singing and playing are in some ways all his own, Pokey nods lovingly (and sometimes playfully) back to older American songs and musical traditions, even as he “transcends the confines of genre.” In this way, he is both a tradition “bearer” and an innovator who is “cleverly striding between numerous forms of traditional American music” and “craft[ing] a genre all his own, marked in its accessible ingenuity.”
In Pokey’s own words, “It’s not retro music. It’s American music that never died.”
Pokey LaFarge’s vintage-inspired fashion style seems to match his music: he integrates vintage pieces into looks that are at once all his own and respectful and sometimes slightly cheeky odes to menswear styles of the 20s, 30s, and 40s.
You can purchase his newest album HERE as well as find the rest of his discography.
Born Albert Allick Bowlly in Mozambique and and raised in South Africa, Al Bowlly was a talented singer, songwriter/composer, and bandleader, who went on to become one of the most popular jazz singers in the UK in the 1930s, performing with both the Ray Noble and Roy Fox (later Lew Stone) orchestras.
He also had sizable popularity in the US, particularly after moving there from 1934 to 1937; Bowlly moved back to London in late 1937, but returned to NY for an operation to remove a wart in his throat that had caused vocal problems for him from about 1936 on.
Al Bowlly was not only immensely popular during the 30s; he was also one of the most prolific artists of the day, since he is said to have made over 1,000 recordings between 1927 and his untimely death in 1941.
Bowlly perished when a Luftwaffe parachute mine that detonated outside his London flat blew his bedroom door off its hinges, thereby delivering a fatal blow to his head. His early death was surely a tragic loss for the music world; for, based on his existing recordings, had he not perished at such a relatively young age, this dreamily talented man would certainly have made more of the kind of music that deco dreams are made of.
Truly, I think Al Bowlly’s singing style is the most perfect embodiment of the wistful elegance and earnest romanticism of the 1930s zeitgeist.
In its day, it was also innovative; indeed, Bowlly is said to have been a key pioneer in the “modern” vocal method known as “crooning.” Literally, he wrote the book on the subject.
British Pathe actually has remastered some filmic footage of Bowlly performing, so we can see as well as hear this dreamy crooner in his prime!
Is it any wonder he was the first singer to be given a solo spot on BBC radio due to popular demand—a move which ostensibly made him the first “Pop Star” (in Britain at least)—or that his nickname was “The Big Swoon”?
You can purchase The Al Bowlly Collection HERE.
Known in many circles as “Canada’s Sweetheart of Swing,” Pangman’s melodic and energetic vocal style hearkens to 20s, 30s, and 40s singers like Mildred Bailey, Connie Boswell, and Ruth Etting.
It is no wonder then that musical legend Jeff Healey was keen to produce both her 1999 debut album, They Say, and the 2001 follow-up, “You Can’t Stop Me From Dreaming.”
You would never know from listening to her sing, but in 2008 she underwent a temporarily successful double lung transfer due to cystic fibrosis! Unfortunately her body rejected them in 2013 and she underwent a second successful double lung transfer.
Get her most recent album, aptly titled “New” by clicking HERE.
Janet Klein is a Los Angeles-based musician with an absolutely darling vintage fashion sensibility and a charmingly saucy musical style significantly inspired by the 1920s.
Backed by her Parlor Boys, Klein does more than simply sing or methodically play the music of bygone eras on her ukulele: through every nuance of her voice, face, and body, she endearingly embodies the spirit of the era whence the songs—many of them “lovely, naughty, and obscure” tunes–have come, which is a rare and wonderful thing to experience.
She has been called a vintage music “archaeologist,” and I can see why!
The website, promotional posters, and album covers for Klein and her band gorgeously reflect her love for early 20th century art and design, particularly as rendered in old postcards and sheet music, which she collects.
Through and through, Janet Klein is a radiant and talented twenties-loving gal!
You can find my favorite album HERE as well as the rest of her music.
And there you have it, a musical bouquet just waiting for you to discover it! So the next time you are stuck in your car, simply put on some new music, or play something that you have always adored.
Do you have any vintage inspired music or retro singers that you adore? If so, let me know who they are in the comments. I am always looking to expand my musical repertoire.
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