Shirley Gaye

Vocalist Shirley Gaye was born in Caldwell, Kansas and later moved to California, where she pursued a career as a singer. She first landed a job with Ted Fio Rito’s orchestra in 1939 and then sang for Leo Reisman before joining Les Brown in early February 1940. She stayed only slightly longer than one week in Brown’s band, however, before jumping ship to Dick Stabile. She remained with Stabile through at least November.

By early 1942, Gaye had joined Jimmy James, where she stayed through at least mid-year.[1] James entered military service in 1943 and returned to the States in late 1945. He reorganized his band in early 1946, with Gaye again as vocalist. She recorded with James on the Enterprise label that year. Gaye, who preferred to sing sweet, never studied music or took vocal lessons.


  1. Gaye’s last mention with Jimmy James was June 1942. The next vocalist mentioned with James was Betty Benson in mid-1943. ↩︎


  1. “Vaudeville Reviews: Loew's State, New York” Billboard 28 Oct. 1939: 22.
  2. Wray, Joseph H. “Dance Personalities Have Top-Ranking Possibilities.” The Gettysburgian [Gettysburg College, PA] 8 Feb. 1940: 2.
  3. “On the Down Beat.” The Gettysburgian [Gettysburg, PA] 22 Feb. 1940: 2.
  4. “Bishop Joins Brown.” Down Beat 1 Mar. 1940: 21.
  5. “Dick Stabile On the Cover.” Down Beat 15 May 1940: 2.
  6. Advertisement. The Cumberland Evening Times [Cumberland, MD] 2 Nov. 1940: 16.
  7. Advertisement. The Athens Messenger [Athens, OH] 5 May 1942: 5.
  8. “The Dance Band Maestro.” The Portsmouth Times [Portsmouth, OH] 10 May 1942: 7.
  9. “—a good steer!” Down Beat 15 Jun. 1942: 13.
  10. “Jimmy James Back.” Down Beat 15 Nov. 1945: 1.
  11. “Vocalist.” The Helena Independent-Record [Helena, MT] 25 Aug. 1946: 5.
  12. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 19 Oct. 1946: 29.