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Nellie Lutcher

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Biography

Nellie Lutcher, a good pianist, had a few vocal hits in the late '40s that gave a permanent momentum to her career. She started playing in public early on. When Lutcher was 14, she played piano behind Ma Rainey at a local booking and the following year she toured with Clarence Hart's band in Louisiana and Texas; her father was on bass. Lutcher worked as a single in obscurity from 1935-47, moving to Los Angeles when she was 23. Her young son told her about a benefit radio program to be broadcast from Hollywood High and at the last second she was able to get booked to close the show. She performed "The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else," it was heard by A&R scout Dave Dexter and she was quickly signed to Capitol Records. Her first two sessions (from 1947) resulted in her two biggest hits: "Hurry on Down" and "He's a Real Gone Guy," both of which have remained signature tunes for Lutcher through the decades. Also popular was "Fine Brown Frame." Lutcher's swing-styled piano worked well with her eccentric scatting and exaggerated pronunciation of words. However no other hits resulted and in 1952 she was dropped by Capitol. There were isolated recordings for Epic (1952-53), Liberty (1956) and Imperial but the singer-pianist made very few records after 1957, working instead at the local Musicians Union and gigging locally. Nellie Lutcher continued working on a part-time basis into the '90s, still most famous for her recordings of 1947. ~ Scott Yanow
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