Vocalist Kay Allen, later known as Cathy Allen, got her start, as did several band singers, on the Horn and Hardart’s Children’s Hour program on WCAU in Philadelphia. In 1940, she was singing with Al Donahue’s band when she joined Joe Frasetto’s orchestra at WIP in Philadelphia. By the first of 1941, she was with Joe Reichman, moving to Enoch Light’s band by mid-year, where she played on the group’s baseball team. In late 1941 she joined Red Norvo’s new orchestra, and by August 1942 she was with Lou Breese, remaining as part of his group when he pared down to ten pieces and settled in as the house band at the Chez Paree night club in Chicago, where she also worked the floor show.
Allen stayed with Breese until at least late 1943. By early 1944, though, she was singing for Carlos Molina’s Latin orchestra, leaving the group around the first of March. She then spent time with Justin Stone’s 10-piece band at the 400 Club in New York before apparently rejoining Molina. She left Molina again in April and sang with Jimmy Palmer, her former fellow chirp with Breese who had taken over Gracie Barrie’s band, but was back with Molina again in May.
In January 1945, Allen joined Jerry Wald’s band, remaining with the clarinet player through early 1946 and recording several songs with the group. While with Wald’s orchestra, she fell in love with fellow singer Dick Merrick, and the two became engaged in November 1945. They married in late 1946. Both she and Merrick left Wald in April of that year. Allen joined Claude Thornhill’s new group that month but left before it debuted in late May. In August, she became singer for Randy Brooks, where she stayed through at least October.
Around the time of her marriage, Allen changed her professional name to Cathy. A Hollywood contract was supposedly secured just before she and Merrick tied the knot, but nothing ever came of it. By March 1947 she had joined Louis Prima, staying and recording with the bandleader until April 1948 when she left expecting the birth of her first child, who was born in September.
After leaving Prima, Allen settled back in Philadelphia with her husband, where she began to sing in local nightclubs and appear on local television, having a regular spot on WPTZ’s The Girl Next Door. She and Merrick recorded together on the Admiral label in 1949.
In 1952, Allen became singer for Charlie Ventura’s band at his Open House club in nearby Lindenwald, New Jersey. In April 1954, she was working as a DJ on WPEN, singing as well as spinning records on her own Sunday night program. In 1962, she and Merrick settled in Florida.