Here is a classic song by the unjustly underrated yet great jazz and R&B singer Donna Hightower.
"Little" Donna Hightower had a dynamic, big voice and made some fine shouting records for Decca and RPM in the 1950's. She toured the "chitlin circuit" with Louis Jordan and B.B. King at that time. She not only had range and power, but was equally compelling doing sentimental, soft ballads. She was backed by the orchestras of Horace Henderson and Maxwell Davis on the Decca and RPM material, respectively. The Missouri-born singer has made a pretty good living in Europe, where she went to sing for a week at a London jazz club in 1959 and stayed 31 years. Indeed Hightower's voice was discovered 55 years ago while she was doing two things she loved — cooking and singing — at a diner in Chicago. She was back in the kitchen one day when a customer asked that the radio be turned up. "That ain't no radio", the owner told Bob Tillman, a reporter for the Chicago Defender. "That's just Lil' Donna." Tillman took Hightower around and introduced her to club owners and she soon got regular bookings fronting bands at the Strand Hotel Lounge, the Crown Propellor and other South Side hotspots. She came to the attention of Decca Records, which signed her and suggested a name change. "They said it was too long and I said: 'Well, it's got the same number of letters as "Ella Fitzgerald" ', and they let it go." Hightower made a series of singles for Decca and RPM, and in 1958 she was working in New York. That's where the second phase of her career began. Producer Dave Cavenaugh had set up a session for Dakota Staton, but when the sassy jazz-blues singer canceled, Cavenaugh scrambled for a replacement. He remembered a voice he heard on a demo that Peggy Lee emulated on a million-seller. Eventually, Hightower was tracked down in Brooklyn. "My boss at the publishing company called one morning and asked if I wanted to make a record for Capitol and I said: 'You bet!' " Hightower recalled. "He said: 'Then get yourself to the studio by noon.' " After taking the quickest shower of her life, Hightower made it in time for the sessions, featuring sax giant Ben Webster, which resulted in the critically acclaimed "Take One!" LP. Six months later came "Gee Baby, Ain't I Good To You", which led to the continent-changing 1959 booking at the Stork Club in London. Donna Hightower is still performing in her eighties. She was recently in Austin, Texas and in July 2005, she was the guest of honor of the IV Festival Internacional de Jazz in Spain, featuring her former tourmate B.B. King and others. Among her great hits, the most famous is probably “This World Today Is a Mess”, a single that sold 7 million copies in Europe. Her idols are Bessie Smith, Mildred Bailey, Lee Wiley, Ella Fitzgerald, Maxine Sullivan and Sarah Vaughan...
Enjoy Donna's great style!
Maybe you'll be there