Sunday, September 18, 2011

Music | Jane Russell Sings! Part 2

As a part of the Filmography Project, I have been doing some research on Jane Russell's other talents... such as her singing. This is part 2 of the Jane Russell Sings! post, you can find the first part here. Find out more about the Filmography Project here.

After releasing her first album, Jane Russell went on to further her acting career. While working on the film Double Dynamite with Frank Sinatra, the couple recorded a track with The Modernaires for Columbia Records titled "Kisses and Tears."

In 1954, Jane , along with Connie Haines, Beryl Davis, and Della Russell, formed The Hollywood Christian Group after meeting at a church social. The fact that Jane was a devout Christian, may have come as a shock to the public at that time because of her very scandalous film career. The quartet was signed to Coral Records and released a single, which was followed by an LP named 'Make Joyful Noise Unto the Lord.' The album included orchestral arrangements by Van Alexandra and Lyn Murray. In May 1954, their single 'Do Lord' made its way to number 27 on the Billboard singles chart, selling a total of two million copies. They would follow up their success on the charts (after replacing Della Russell with Rhonda Felming) with other hit singles such as "Jacob's Ladder." During that time, Jane also cut a solo single titled "Forevermore" for Coral.

Aside from singing on stage, Jane would continue to showcase her vocal talents in her films. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes would team her up with blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe and give Russell the biggest hit of her career. Unfortunately, none of her other films would live up the success of GPB. While she went on to appear in a few films after 1957, Jane's career as a major movie actress ended in 1957 after a number of films flopped at the box-office.

On the plus side, with the exposure of her abilities to act, sing, and dance, Jane was able to put together a very successful nightclub act. She would go on to appear in biggest clubs in Las Vegas, New York, Chicago, and other places around the world. She even had another stent on the radio performing with Bobby Troup and his quartet. The group released the singles "It Never Entered My Mind" and "You're Mine."

Now a trio (Jane, Connie Haines, and Beryl Davis), The Hollywood Christian Group would do a follow up to their successful LP that was recorded in 1957 for Capitol Record titled 'The Magic of Believing.' In later years an album titled 'Feel The Spirit' brought together all of the recordings the group did for Coral and Capitol including their single for Warner Bros. Records from 1961, "Cumana."

Original Artwork For 1959 Album

Even though she wasn't making films anymore, Jane stayed busy with her nightclub and music careers. In 1959, she would release a self-titled LP for MGM Records. For this album Jane was recorded in stereo sound and given full creative control over the whole recording process. Jane would later say “I picked the songs and the band. I knew I wanted a small group. I got Billy May to arrange and when I needed a piano player, Peggy Lee found me Joe Rotondi. I finally got to make a record the way I wanted to make it.” The jazz inspired album was full of standards arranged by Billy May, this would become Russell's personal favorite. Jane would take this album on tour, appearing in New England and New York. The album would later be re-released under the name 'Fine and Dandy' with 5 never-before-released tracks and two demo recording from 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' and 'Macao.'

Though best known as a silver screen bombshell, Jane Russell had a fruitful music career and went on in later years to become a stage actor. Never satisfied with the roles she was given in film, it is nice to know what Jane was able to enjoy this part of her long career because she was respected as a talent, rather than being exploited to sell seats in theaters. I have started my own collection of Jane's recordings and hope to one day have them all. You can find most of her music on iTunes and amazon.

And there you have it... Jane Russell Sings!

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