Zutty Singleton was a master of his art and after Baby Dodds was the finest of the New Orleans drummers. He played with a springy, joyous beat that ultimately gave him more flexibility than his contemporary.
He was born Arthur James Singelton in Bunkie, Louisiana, on 14 May 1898. His nickname was bestowed upon him while he was still a babe-in-arms: the name indicating the happy countenance that he was to retain for the rest of his life.
He played drums from a very early age, working professionally for the first time when he was 17 years old. He served in the army during World War 1 and shortly thereafter worked with numerous bands in New Orleans, including those led by Oscar 'Papa' Celestin, 'Big Eye' Louis Nelson and Luis Russell, before joining the educational hothouse that was Fate Marable's riverboat band