Betty Van

Photo of Betty Van

Vocalist Betty Van be­gan her ca­reer singing on Los Angeles ra­dio sta­tion KHJ at age 17. When she grad­u­ated from high school, she toured with Kenny Bakers or­ches­tra be­fore be­ing in­vited to join Benny Goodman in mid-1937. She re­mained with the band only a few months be­fore be­ing re­placed by Martha Tilton. After leav­ing Goodman, she sang on the night­club cir­cuit.

In 1939, Van was with Vito Musso’s or­ches­tra. Musso, a for­mer Goodman sax­o­phon­ist, turned his band over to Johnny Scat” Davis in mid-1939. Van re­mained, but in October Davis de­cided to change gears from swing to sweet mu­sic, and both she and Musso left, Musso form­ing a new band with Van as vo­cal­ist.

In sum­mer 1940, Van sang with Sonny Dunham. Later that year she was with Charles Dant’s NBC or­ches­tra, leav­ing for a year and then re­turn­ing in November 1941. In April 1942, Van joined Jack Teagardens band, tour­ing with them be­fore re­tir­ing to get mar­ried.


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  • Afraid to Dream
    Benny Goodman (Betty Van), Victor (1937)

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  1. Simon, George T. The Big Bands. 4th ed. New York: Schirmer, 1981.
  2. Guzzardi, Joe. “My Mom: A Life of Grace, Dignity.” Lodi News-Sentinel [Lodi, CA] 8 May 2004.: 4.
  3. Zolotow, Maurice. “Night Club Reviews: Club Tivoli, Juarez, Mexico.” Billboard 11 Dec 1937: 22.
  4. Cohen, Joe. “Night Clubs-Vaudeville: Fox, Philadelphia.” Billboard 17 Jun 1939: 23.
  5. Honigberg, Sam. “Night Club Reviews: Blackhawk Cafe, Chicago.” Billboard 29 Jul 1939: 17.
  6. “Vido Musso--Johnny Davis Split Their Band Partnership.” Down Beat 1 Oct 1940: 1.
  7. Honigberg, Sam. “Night Club Reviews: Blackhawk Cafe, Chicago.” Billboard 28 Oct 1939: 18.
  8. Rickey, Gene. “Kenny Baker Can't Miss.” Down Beat 1 Jun 1940: 18.
  9. Hyltone, David. “Sonny Dunham Band Shaping Up.” Down Beat 1 Jul 1940: 6.
  10. “Sonny Dunham Saves a Life.” Down Beat 1 Aug 1940: 13.
  11. “Orchestra Notes.” Billboard 29 Nov 1941: 11.
  12. Untitled article. Down Beat 15 Apr 1942: 37.
  13. “Stars to Shine at Nat Park Opening.” The Spokesman-Review [Spokane, WA] 13 May 1942: 5.