Hazel Bruce

Photo of Hazel Bruce
  • Birth Name

    Hazel Tekla Zogheib
  • Born

    August 13, 1912
    El Paso, Texas
  • Died

    August 9, 1992 (age 79)
  • Orchestras

    Layton Bailey
    Charlie Barnet
    Ted Jennings
    Barney Rapp
    Joe Reichman

Vocalist Hazel Bruce spent most of her career singing with second-tier orchestras. In the early 1940s, she had a brief moment in the spotlight with Charlie Barnet before making her final fade into history.

Born in El Paso, Texas, Bruce was the daughter of a Syrian immigrant father and a mother whose parents had been Swiss immigrants. By 1920, Bruce and her family had moved to San Antonio, where she began her singing career in the early 1930s. Raven-haired and brown-eyed, she reportedly was in high demand as a vocalist, working and traveling the country with a variety of orchestras, including those of Henry Halstead, Ralph Webster, Bernie Green, and Doc Ross. In early 1933, she was with Don “Chief” Gonzalez, but by October she had settled in with Steve Gardner’s popular Texas-based dance orchestra. When Gardner’s band played Galveston in August 1934, Bruce remained in the city as a solo act, staying through at least December.

By September 1935, Bruce had joined Ted Jennings, whose orchestra settled in to a long run at Cincinnati’s Castle Farm later that year. She remained with Jennings through at least September 1936. In February and March 1938, she sang with Marvin Frederich’s orchestra on NBC radio. At some point after, Bruce joined Barney Rapp’s band, leaving in early 1939 for Joe Reichman’s orchestra at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco. She remained with Reichman through at least July 1939, when the band played Chicago. She then disappears from the record for two years.

Bruce resurfaced in October 1941 when she joined Charlie Barnet’s band, temporarily at first. Barnet had just lost the Quintones vocal group, whose two girl members, Barbara Canvin and Patty Morgan, had handled female vocals. Barnet intended to only use Bruce until he found a permanent girl singer, but she ended up with the job, staying with the band until late March 1942, when she left to join Layton Bailey’s Washington, D.C., hotel orchestra.[1]

In July 1943, Bruce made a guest appearance on NBC radio. In November, she was part of a Red Cross “Hit Parade” entertainment unit, performing for troops in England. The unit billed her as the “Sophie Tucker of the Hit Parade.” The show was not associated with the popular American radio program.[2]

Bruce retired from show business to marry armed forces officer Auburn Reaves at some point before August 1946. That month she was living in San Francisco and expecting a child, which turned out to be a son. The couple lived in Sacaramento in 1950, with Reaves having the rank of captain by that time. Bruce eventually settled in Buda, Texas.

Hazel Bruce passed away in 1992, just four days shy of her eightieth birthday.[3]


  1. While with Barnet, Bruce was said to be able to dress on a bus in six seconds. ↩︎

  2. A notice announcing Bruce joining Layton Bailey hints that she also sang for Will Bradley, whose band was in Washington, D.C., at the same time. If so, it would have only been as a substitute, as Lynn Gardner was Bradley’s female vocalist during that period. The same notice also states that Bruce had sang with Artie Shaw. If true, it would also likely be on a temporary basis. ↩︎

  3. Bruce began to lie about her age starting in 1934, when she knocked a year off her true age. By the time she had joined Barnet in 1941, she was pretending to be seven years younger than she actually was. ↩︎


  1. “Band Members Visit Here.” The Maryville Daily Forum [Maryville, Missouri] 9 Mar. 1933: 1.
  2. “Gardner to Play For Union Dance.” The Daily Texan [Austin, Texas] 12 Oct. 1933: 7.
  3. Advertisement. “Texas Union Ballroom.” The Daily Texan [Austin, Texas] 21 Feb. 1934: 4.
  4. Advertisement. “The Aztec.” Harlingen Valley Weekly Star [Harlingen, Texas] 25 May 1934: 4.
  5. “Gardner's band In Valley Spot.” Harlingen Valley Weekly Star [Harlingen, Texas] 25 May 1934: 4.
  6. “New Singer at Del Mar.” The Galveston Daily News 12 Aug. 1934: 9.
  7. “Famous Band Will Reopen Newly Decorated Del Mar.” The Galveston Daily News 6 Sep. 1934: 5.
  8. Advertisement. “Texas Alamo.” The Galveston Daily News 18 Oct. 1934: 2.
  9. “In Texas Alamo Show.” The Galveston Daily News 25 Nov. 1934: 9.
  10. Advertisement. “Texas Alamo Cafe.” The Galveston Daily News 1 Dec. 1934: 2.
  11. “Personals.” The Paris News [Paris, Texas] 24 Sep. 1935: 8.
  12. Advertisement. “Ted Jennings.” Billboard 28 Dec. 1935: 45.
  13. “Night Club Reviews: Castle Farm, Cincinnati.” Billboard 18 Jan. 1936: 12.
  14. “San Antonio Girl Makes Good.” The San Antonio Light 23 Jan. 1936: 8.
  15. “First Fall Dance At Emerywood Club Proves Enjoyable.” The High Point Enterprise [High Point, North Carolina] 11 Sep. 1936: 6.
  16. Advertisement. “Swing High in the Terrace Room.” Syracuse Herald [Syracuse, New York] 17 Feb. 1938: 10.
  17. “Around the Plaza.” The San Antonio Light 7 Mar. 1938: 1.
  18. “Around the Plaza.” The San Antonio Light 23 Feb. 1939: 1.
  19. “Name Bands Absent At Frisco Expo.” Down Beat Apr. 1939: 33.
  20. “Where Is?” Down Beat Jun. 1939: 27.
  21. “We Found.” Down Beat Jul. 1939: 29.
  22. “Philadelphia Grosses.” Billboard 25 Oct. 1941: 27.
  23. “Orchestra Notes.” Down Beat 1 Nov. 1941: 13.
  24. “Barnet's Latest.” Down Beat 15 Jan. 1942: 13.
  25. “Climbing Fast!” Billboard 4 Apr. 1942: 21.
  26. “After Dark.” The Washington, D.C., Evening Star 5 May 1942: B-12,B-13.
  27. “Charlie Barnet Crew on Edge.” Down Beat 1 Jun. 1942: 1.
  28. “Hazel Bruce Guest.” San Antonio Express 5 Jul. 1943: 2A.
  29. “Hit Parade, Red Cross Unit, Hit With Men.” The Yuma Daily Sun and Arizona Sentinel 9 Nov. 1943: 4.
  30. “Strictly Ad Lib.” Down Beat 26 Aug. 1946: 3.
  31. “United States Census, 1920”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MH18-46F : Sun Jul 23 14:22:56 UTC 2023), Entry for William J Zogheib and Julia Zogheib, 1920.
  32. “United States Census, 1930,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:C34S-JPZ : Sun Mar 10 11:12:12 UTC 2024), Entry for William J Zogleib and Julia Zogleib, 1930.
  33. “United States Census, 1950,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6XGM-TDY3 : Tue Mar 19 08:21:54 UTC 2024), Entry for Auburn N Reaves and Hazel T Reaves, 15 April 1950.
  34. “United States, Social Security Numerical Identification Files (NUMIDENT), 1936-2007”, database, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:6KQV-GCZR : 10 February 2023), Hazel Tekla Zoghieb Bruce.