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About Ernie Andrews

Instead of presenting some "authorized biography" of Ernie Andrews, perhaps quotes of those who know him are best suited and most authentic way to describe this great jazz singer and legend with personality to burn.

"Ernie Andrews was born on Christmas Day, 1927 in Philadelphia. He did his first recordings in the 1940s while still in high school. Andrews sang with Harry James' big band for six years, and did a number of recordings in the 1950s, but was in the shadow of bigger stars such as Joe Williams for many years. However, Andrews was rediscovered in the 1980s, and has recorded in recent years with Jay McShann, the late Gene Harris, and the Frank Capp/Nat Pierce Juggernaut. Andrews has also done a number of solo albums, and has a gift for doing impressions of other great singers in his act."

This is how "Jazz 88" described Ernie Andrews in their list of 30 Greatest Male Jazz Vocalists.

"Speaking of the nitty-gritty, very few singers epitomize this basic, bare-feet-in the-mud, utterly human quality, in the great tradition of Mamie and Bessie Smith, Jimmy Rushing and Billie Holiday. Ernie Andrews does. Ernie has been in the process of being "discovered" for the past twenty years. He is singing today with a maturity and depth developed out of that two decades of professional experience that render this newest re-discovery of him both an inevitability and a joy. It is more thah fitting, therefore, that the instrument in the presentation of Ernie Andrews should be Cannonball Adderley. The Adderley- Andrews alliance is eminently justified on the most basic ground - as memorable singing and as lusty jazz. To gauge the wealth of vocal experience summed up in Ernie Andrews today, it is worthwhile glancing back to 1945 when the 17-year-old Ernie made a hit record called "Soothe Me" with Red Callender's band. In those days the sale of 300,000 records almost guaranteed instant fame and fortune. Curiously, both eluded Ernie. The fame he did enjoy consisted of hard-core cognoscenti who dug him then and still do. A Hollywood jazz disc jockey named Gene Norman, a man with sound knowledge and love of jazz to bolster his opinion, wrote of Ernie, "He is everything an outstanding modern singer should be... Eckstine, Hibbier and Williams combined." The twenty-year shaping of Ernie Andrews included band work with everything from obscure groups to a two-year-hitch with the famous aggregation of Harry James. There was a two-month tour of Europe during which audiences on the Continent first tasted the Andrews talent, there were highly successful appearances in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, and a South American tour with the James orchestra. The essence of Andrews emerges immediately in his reading of Big City. He gets a poignancy, a sheer intensity of sound that lets the listener know, right now, that Ernie knows the big city, he's been and gone through so many of them, he's lived the fulfillment and the heartbreak implicit within.

Anthony Corbett