Julia Lee And Her Boyfriends, Kansas City’s First Lady Of The Blues

John Morthland

By John Morthland

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The songs your mother taught you not to sing.

This swinging R&B contralto and pianist specialized in "the songs my mother taught me not to sing," as she so proudly put it. That would include her first hit, the 1946 "Gotta Give Me Whatcha Got," as well as her biggest, the 1947 "Snatch and Grab It." But she was also no slouch with such blues standards as "Trouble in Mind" and "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out." She pounded the ivories with rocking energy; her low voice added a kind of sly, earthy humor to songs that needed it; and her session bands included such jazz-blues stalwarts as Jay McShann, Benny Carter and , who could indeed give her what she wanted.