3

Part 7: Sing Miller: This Little Light of Mine

William Carter By

Sign in to view read count
Born in 1914, pianist/vocalist Sing Miller was active on the New Orleans scene from the late 1920s until his death in 1990. If Sing didn't like something, he'd let you know. "Man...that ball don't bounce," is a Sing-saying drummer Jeff Hamilton remembers.

Early one winter morning in Iowa in 1984, when I was traveling as a photojournalist with the Percy Humphrey band, Sing sat alone in the lobby for most of an hour, staring glumly out at the blustery weather. Finally he lumbered over and checked out. "Have a nice day," said the lady at the desk. Sing: "How I'm gonna have a nice day when you took all my money?"

But he was also a bon vivant. When a reporter asked him, "Where did the blues begin?" Sing replied, "I'll tell you where the blues begin. Blues begin with fish fries."

Like many early New Orleans musicians, he had an alternate profession: as a paving contractor. On gigs he gave out business cards that read, "Let me pave the way for you."

But Sing is best remembered for captivating audiences of five, or five thousand, with his vocals on blues and spirituals. After a performance one night at New York's prestigious Lincoln Center, the famous folklorist Alan Lomax told me: "The first note he sang, I began to cry. That first note of Sing's made me burst into tears. This little, humble, crushed-looking man was in great big Avery Fisher Hall, and he knew it. And the first note he formed was as beautiful as a garden of flowers. It was a sunburst of the soul."

























Photo Credit

All Photos: William Carter

Shop

More Articles

Read Part 7: Sing Miller: This Little Light of Mine Jazz Emerges Part 7: Sing Miller: This Little Light of Mine
by William Carter
Published: June 9, 2013
Read Part 6: The Basses of Our Music Jazz Emerges Part 6: The Basses of Our Music
by William Carter
Published: May 26, 2013
Read Part 3: Spirit Matters Jazz Emerges Part 3: Spirit Matters
by William Carter
Published: April 22, 2013
Read Part 2: Blues Essential Jazz Emerges Part 2: Blues Essential
by William Carter
Published: March 30, 2013
Read "Clouds and Stormy Nights: A New Pair from QFTF" Multiple Reviews Clouds and Stormy Nights: A New Pair from QFTF
by Geno Thackara
Published: December 19, 2016
Read "What would Plato have thought about jazz music?" Philosophisticated Lady What would Plato have thought about jazz music?
by Marithe Van der Aa
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Prelude to a Kiss by Duke Ellington" Anatomy of a Standard Prelude to a Kiss by Duke Ellington
by Tish Oney
Published: September 28, 2016
Read "A giant of jazz journalism silenced" Opinion/Editorial A giant of jazz journalism silenced
by Jim Trageser
Published: January 8, 2017
Read "Cannonball Adderley: Somethin' Else – 1958" My Blue Note Obsession Cannonball Adderley: Somethin' Else – 1958
by Marc Davis
Published: May 9, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!