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Louise Tobin

Documenting Her Place in the History of Jazz Texas-native Louise Tobin (b.1918) has a remarkable story to tell about her life in jazz. Exhibiting vocal talent at a very early age, by 1934 she was performing throughout Texas with orchestras directed by Hyman Charninsky, Ligon Smith, and Art Hicks, the latter of which was where she first met future husband, Harry James. In 1939, shortly after James left Benny Goodman to form his own band, Tobin replaced Martha Tilton as Goodman's primary vocalist. A divorce in 1943 left Tobin solely in charge of their two children. After they left home for college in the early 1960s, George Simon invited her to perform with Louis Armstrong at the Newport Jazz Festival, where she met clarinetist and former Glenn Miller Band member, Peanuts Hucko, to whom she married and performed with until shortly before his death in 2003. While her name appears in many jazz history books and most specialized publications on women in jazz, her archives and oral history have only recently been collected and housed at Texas A&M University-Commerce. Drawing on interviews and the Tobin Collection, this paper will highlight the extent to which Tobin's story informs our understanding of the challenges and achievements of a working, female jazz vocalist during the swing era and beyond, contributing both to our knowledge of Texas women in music specifically and, more broadly, women in jazz.


Whitney Balliet- New Yorker after 1962 Newport performance "Louise sings like a young Ella Fitzgerald."


Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson


Kubiak Productions




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