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Al Hibbler

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Biography

Not just a distinctive singer but a true vocal wonder, Al Hibbler featured with Duke Ellington's Orchestra throughout the 1940s and recorded a few hits ("Unchained Melody," "After the Lights Go Down Low," "He") on his own for Decca and Atlantic during the '50s and '60s. His frequent use of a Cockney accent and non-subtle growling techniques kept listeners on their toes though, far from a novelty act, Hibbler's voice was strong, emotive, and masculine, with a steady vibrato that carried every record he made. Born blind in Mississippi, he began singing early on and sang soprano in the choir of a school for the blind after moving to Little Rock at the age of 12. Inspired by lush ballad singers like Bing Crosby and Russ Columbo, Hibbler's voice soon deepened and he began singing the blues at area roadhouses. After winning a talent contest in Memphis, he joined Jay McShann and His Orchestra in 1942 and debuted with Duke Ellington's Orchestra just one year later, replacing Herb Jeffries. One of the most important singers Ellington ever showcased, Hibbler appeared on a range of Ellington standards including "Do Nothin' 'Til You Hear from Me," "Ain't Got Nothin' But the Blues," "Don't Be so Mean to My Baby," and "I'm Just a Lucky So-and-So." He spent a total of eight years with Ellington's band, finally leaving in 1951 after Ellington refused to raise his salary by $50. After quickly signing to Verve, Hibbler continued to record with excellent musicians (Harry Carney, Count Basie, Gerald Wilson) for his initial solo work, and in 1954 released an LP of old favorites entitled Al Hibbler Sings Duke Ellington. One year later, he signed a big contract with Decca and hit the pop charts in a big way with two million-selling singles, "Unchained Melody" and "He," spotlighting his idiosyncratic (to say the least) delivery, which veered from growling vocals to a carefully studied, almost Cockney accent only occasionally enforced. In 1956, Hibbler hit the Top Ten again with "After the Lights Go Down Low," but it proved to be his last hit. By the late '50s, Hibbler had begun taking an interest in the civil-rights movement. While other major artists gave generously to the cause, Hibbler actually marched with protesters and was arrested twice, once in New Jersey in 1959 and again in Alabama in 1963 (after he led an anti-segregation protest). Though the major labels backed away from the potential controversy of owning his contract, Hibbler did gain support from an important source -- Frank Sinatra signed him to Reprise and released an LP, Monday Every Day, in 1961. Hibbler recorded very sparingly after that. He collaborated with Rahsaan Roland Kirk on a 1972 LP for Atlantic (A Meeting of the Times), but resurfaced only occasionally during the '80s and '90s for recordings or special performances. ~ John Bush
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Top Tracks

  1.   Track
    Popularity
  2.   He
  3.   Don't Get Around Much Anymore
  4.   All or Nothing at All
  5.   Unchained Melody
  6.   After the Lights Go Down Low
  7.   You Had Better Change Your Ways
  8.   Now I Lay Me Down to Dream
  9.   Old Folks
  10.   Autumn Winds
  11.   I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance With You
  12.   Where Are You
  13.   Tell Me
  14.   I'm a Fool to Want You
  15.   Laughing on the Outside
  16.   You'll Never Know
  17.   Don't Take Your Love from Me
  18.   Honeysuckle Rose
  19.   Song of the Wanderer
  20.   I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore
  21.   I'm Travelin' Light
  22.   The Blues Came Falling Down
  23.   Lover Come Back to Me
  24.   Sweet Slumber
  25.   Do Nothin' 'Till You Here from Me
  26.   Little Brown Book
  27.   On a Slow Boat to China
  28.   You Will Be Mine
  29.   Poor Butterfly
  30.   I Hadn't Anyone Till You
  31.   What Would People Say
  32.   Danny Boy
  33.   I Love You
  34.   Dinner for One, Please James
  35.   It Shouldn't Happen to a Dream
  36.   You of All People
  37.   Trees
  38.   In the Wee Samll Hours of the Morning
  39.   There Are Such Things
  40.   Every Hour on the Hour (I Fall in Love with You) by Duke Ellington
  41.   Ain't Got Nothing But the Blues
  42.   Shanghai Lil
  43.   Count Every Star
  44.   The 12th of Never
  45.   You Don't Love Me No More
  46.   Don't You Know I Care
  47.   Sweet Lumber
  48.   'Tis Autumn
  49.   Jelly, Jelly
  50.   I'm Falling For You
  51.   I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart
  52.   I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
  53.   Anne
  54.   As Time Goes By
  55.   He
  56.   When Will I Forget You
  57.   Warm Heart Cold Feet
  58.   They Say You're Laughing at Me (While I'm Crying for You)
  59.   Never Turn Back
  60.   Mine All Mine
  61.   Love Me Long, Hold Me Close, Kiss Me Warm and Tender
  62.   Lonesome and Cold
  63.   I Was Telling Her About You
  64.   Flamingo
  65.   Breeze (Blow My Baby Back to Me)
  66.   Be Fair
  67.   I Can't Put My Arms Around a Memory
  68.   Please
  69.   Dedicated to You
  70.   Don't Be So Mean to Baby
  71.   It's Monday Everyday
  72.   When the Sun Comes Out
  73.   I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)
  74.   I'll Get Along Somehow
  75.   Where or When
  76.   Night and Day
  77.   There Is No Greater Love
  78.   Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me
  79.   The Very Thought of You
  80.   Solitude
  81.   I'm Just a Lucky So and So
  82.   My Little Brown Book
  83.   It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)
  84.   It Must Be True
  85.   I'll Never Smile Again
  86.   After the Lights Go Low
  87.   I'll Be Around
  88.   The Crying Wind
  89.   Oh My Love
  90.   Around the Corner from the Blues
  91.   Believe It Beloved
  92.   It's Been a Long, Long Time
  93.   In My Solitude
  94.   I'm Free
  95.   11th Hour Melody
  96.   It Won't Be Easy
  97.   A Sinner Kissed An Angel
  98.   This Is Always
  99.   Wish
  100.   Silent Night
  101.   Eleventh Hour Melody
  102.   Feather Roll Blues
  103.   For You
  104.   I Complain
  105.   Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen
  106.   If I Knew You Were There
  107.   Ain't Nothing Wrong With That, Baby
  108.   Pennies from Heaven
  109.   Softly My Love
  110.   Love Land
  111.   Baby, Won't You Please Come Home
  112.   Pretty Woman
  113.   I Don't Stand a Ghost of a Chance
  114.   This Love of Mine
  115.   I Like a Sunrise
  116.   Away All Boats
  117.   Just a Kid Named Joe
  118.   Daybreak
  119.   Fat and Forty
  120.   September in the Rain
  121.   I Won't Tell a Soul (I Love You)
  122.   The Town Crier
  123.   Where You Are
  124.   I'm Walking Through Heaven With You
  125.   Nightfall
  126.   A Tree in the Meadow
  127.   I Got A Right To Sing The Blues
  128.   You And I
  129.   Because of You
  130.   Al Hibbler, Jay Mcshann Orch - Get Me on Your Mind
  131.   Stella by Starlight
  132.   What Will I Tell My Heart?
  133.   White Christmas
  134.   What 'Tis? What 'Tis? 'Tis Spring
  135.   A Tree in a Meadow
  136.   Your Hands
  137.   Worried Over You
  138.   Trav'lin' Light
  139.   Let's Try Again
  140.   The Party's Over
  141.   He Is There
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