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Ernie Andrews

Ernie Andrews has a raw vitality that communicates instantly, he exudes a "reach 'em by preachin'" energy, influenced by his gospel roots. Born Christmas day in Philadelphia, his early years were spent in his mother's Baptist Church. In his early teens, his family moved to Los Angeles, where he studied drums at Jefferson High School and continued singing.

He was discovered by songwriter Joe Greene in 1947, when he won an amateur show at the Lincoln Theatre on Central Avenue in Los Angeles. Greene was so impressed that he immediately took Andrews into the studio to record at age 17. With a 300,000 seller hit, "Soothe Me" with "Wrap It Up And Put It Away" on the flip side, Ernie Andrews became a singer to be reckoned with. In 1953, he had another big record with "Make Me A Present of You" with Benny Carter. By this time, Andrews was working at home and out of town playing clubs, concerts and "after-hours" rooms.

In 1959, Andrews joined Harry James' band, touring the U.S. and South America for nine years, which time he considers his most valuable learning experience. In 1967, he recorded the jazz classic "Big City" with Cannonball Adderley on Capital Records. Obviously a fan and admirer, Cannonball Adderley stated, "When it comes down to the real nitty-gritty, there's Ernie Andrews." After the project with Cannonball, Andrews rejoined Harry James in 1968 for one more year before going it alone.

In 1969, Baltimore became home base for Andrews, where he worked the East Coast and the Midwest, again scoring big with his hit record of "Bridge Over Troubled Waters." In 1974, he returned to Los Angeles, where he resided with his wife of 50 years, Dolores, who recently passed away, but Ernie continues on, sharing the lives of his five children and grandchildren.

Early influences included Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine, Al Hibbler, Johnny Mercer, Jimmy Rushing and "Big" Joe Turner. Jazz producer Gene Norman said of Andrews, "Ernie is everything an outstanding modern singer should be. His sound and style have been influenced by his predecessors, but he contributes important values . . . uniquely his own." Several years ago Andrews returned to the scene of his prime — to the Gaiety Club across from the Lincoln Theatre — as his life was being profiled in an award-winning documentary, available on video, "Ernie Andrews: Blues for Central Avenue," directed by Lois Shelton.

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Wayne Powers
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