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Encyclopedia > Nellie Lutcher

Nellie Lutcher (born October 15, 1915) was an African-American jazz singer and pianist who achieved some prominence in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Lutcher is most recognizable for her distinctive voice, particularly her phrasing and exaggerated pronunciation.


She was born in Lake Charles, Louisiana to Isaac and Suzie Lutcher. Her father was a bass player and she learned to play piano. She was the oldest daughter of 15 children. Her father formed a family band with Nellie playing piano. At age 14 she played piano for Ma Rainey at a local gig. She toured (with her father) with the Clarence Hart band.


By age 23, Lutcher had moved to Los Angeles, California and began to play swing piano in small combos throughout the area. She was not widely known until 1947 when she learned of March of Dimes talent show at Hollywood High School and performed. The show was broadcast on radio and her performance caught the ear of Dave Dexter, a scout for Capitol Records.


She was signed by Capitol and made several records, including "Hurry On Down", "He's A Real Gone Guy", "Fine Brown Frame", and "The Pig Latin Song". Her songs charted on the pop, jazz, and R&B charts and she became widely known. She even recorded a song with fellow Capitol artist Nat King Cole ("Can I Come in for a Second").


Although she had success touring the country, her record sales slumped and Capitol released her in 1952. She recorded sessions for other labels but did not have commercial success. By 1957 she had retired from performing. She worked for the Los Angeles Musician's Union. She continued to perform occasionally until the 1990s.


She is the sister of saxophonist Joe Woodman Lutcher and aunt of latin jazz percussionist Daryl "Munyungo" Jackson,


 
 

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