Teddy Grace

Photo of Teddy Grace
  • Birth Name

    Stella Maple(?)
  • Born

    1910
    Arcadia, Louisiana
  • Died

    January 4, 1992 (age 81)
    Los Angeles, California
  • Orchestras

    Bob Crosby
    Mal Hallett

Louisiana-native Teddy Grace first sang with the bands of Al Katz and Tommy Christian before coming to prominence in early 1934 as vocalist for Mal Hallett’s orchestra. Grace emerged as the star of Hallett’s band, making a name for herself as a jazz singer with a bluesy voice. She left Hallett at some point after February 1935, tired from touring and needing a rest. She returned near the beginning of 1937, making her first recordings with the band on Decca early that year and appearing with them on radio. In December 1937, she was one of four Hallett band members injured in an auto wreck while traveling by car from Scranton, Pennsylvania, to Chattanooga, Tennessee, when their vehicle crashed into a truck. She left Hallett soon after to focus on her solo career.

By the latter half of 1937, while still part of Hallett’s orchestra, Grace had begun to break out on her own, recording solo on Decca and singing on a weekly, 15-minute radio program. Over the next few years, she became Decca’s answer to Vocalion’s Mildred Bailey, the highly popular white jazz singer, with the two women often releasing the same material weeks or even days apart. Reviewers at the time typically compared Grace unfavorably to Bailey, though her recordings initially sold well.

Decca also teamed Grace with other artists, most notably Bob Crosby’s band, for whom she served as studio vocalist in the last half of 1939, though she did not perform on stage with them.[1] Grace also served as vocalist for Milt Herth’s Trio and Lou Holden’s band. On her solo recordings, she worked with a number of well-known jazz musicians, including Jack Teagarden, Charlie Shavers, Dave Barbour, and Bud Freeman.[2]

In the early 1940s, Grace lived in Forest Hills on Long Island, New York. Decca dropped her from the label in 1940, though she continued on the radio into early 1942. In early 1943, with her singing career basically over, she joined the Women’s Army Corps under her real name, Stella Maple.[3] Posted to Camp Tyler in Sherman, Texas, she eventually rose to the rank of sergeant and was put in charge of all army recruiting in the city. As part of her duties, she performed at local recruitment shows, singing both praises of the army and old standards she had recorded, using her past fame as a publicity draw. According to later accounts, though not backed up by primary sources, she strained her voice during a war bond tour in 1944 and was never able to recover. In frustration, she turned to alcohol.

In mid-1944, Grace was stationed at Camp Chaffee in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Beyond that, she disappears from history for 47 years. Down Beat magazine asked her whereabouts three times, in 1947, 1950, and 1956. They received no replies. In late 1991, Grace was tracked down to a suburban Los Angeles nursing home. She passed away in January 1992 at the probable age of 81.[4]

Notes

  1. Bob Crosby’s band often had two female vocalists during this period, one for live performances and one for radio and recordings. ↩︎

  2. Like many vocalists, Grace’s recording career has been muddied by time and poor scholarship. Contrary to many later sources, she did not sing with Jack Teagarden’s band. He simply played on some of her recordings. ↩︎

  3. It’s unknown if Maple is her birth surname or if it was a married surname. ↩︎

  4. Grace stated that she was twenty-six years old in an early 1937 interview. If she was truthful about her age, that would make her birth year either 1910 or very early 1911. ↩︎

Music

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  • Rockin' Chair Swing
    Mal Hallett (Teddy Grace), Decca (1937)
  • Life of the Party
    Mal Hallett (Teddy Grace), Decca (1937)
  • Alibi Baby
    Mal Hallett (Teddy Grace), Decca (1937)
  • Rock It for Me
    Teddy Grace, Decca (1937)
  • Tears in My Heart
    Teddy Grace, Decca (1937)
  • Crazy Blues
    Teddy Grace, Decca (1938)
  • Monday Morning
    Teddy Grace, Decca (1938)
  • Love Me or Leave Me
    Teddy Grace, Decca (1938)
  • Down Hearted Blues
    Teddy Grace, Decca (1938)
  • Gulf Coast Blues
    Teddy Grace, Decca (1939)
  • Blue Orchids
    Bob Crosby (Teddy Grace), Decca (1939)
  • Graveyard Blues
    Teddy Grace, Decca (1939)
  • Angry
    Bob Crosby (Teddy Grace), Decca (1939)
  • Oh Daddy Blues (You Won't Have No Mamma at All)
    Teddy Grace, Decca (1939)
  • Happy Birthday to Love
    Bob Crosby (Teddy Grace), Decca (1939)
  • Thunder in My Heart
    Teddy Grace, Decca (1940)
  • Let There Be Love
    Teddy Grace, Decca (1940)
  • Left All Alone with the Blues
    Teddy Grace, Decca (1940)
  • Red Wagon
    Lou Holden and His Disciples of Rhythm (Teddy Grace), Decca (1940)
  • I'm the Lonesomest Gal in Town
    Teddy Grace, Decca (1940)
  • Down South (American Sketch)
    Milt Hearth Trio (Down South), Decca (1940)

All recordings are from the Internet Archive's 78rpm collection. Copyright owners, please see our removal policy.

Sources

  1. “Large Attendance At Elks Ball Expected.” The North Adams Evening Transcript [North Adams, Massachusetts] 26 Mar. 1934: 5.
  2. “Meadowbrook Improved For Season's Opening.” The North Adams Evening Transcript [North Adams, Massachusetts] 24 Apr. 1934: 9.
  3. “Society.” The Danville Bee [Danville, Virginia] 5 Jun. 1934: 3.
  4. “Outdoor Attractions.” The Washington D.C. Sunday Star 15 Jul. 1934: F-5.
  5. Advertisement. “Meadowbrook.” The Berkshire Evening Eagle [Pittsfield, Massachusetts] 14 Sep. 1934: 16.
  6. “Duncan Sisters Are Headliners in Variety Show.” Wilkes-Barre Sunday Independent 4 Nov. 1934: B-12.
  7. Advertisement. “The New Valencia.” The New Oxford Item [New Oxford, Pennsylvania] 14 Feb. 1935: 6.
  8. “Hallett To Feature Novel Tunes.” The Lafayette [Eaton, Pennsylvania] 23 Feb. 1937: 1.
  9. “Preparations for Annual Junior Promenade Week End Announced.” The Lafayette [Eaton, Pennsylvania] 9 Mar. 1937: 1.
  10. “Mal Hallett Plays In Art Building.” The Oberlin Review [Oberlin, Ohio] 18 May 1937: 3.
  11. “Vaudeville Reviews: Earle, Philadelphia.” Billboard 2 Oct. 1937: 16.
  12. “On the Air.” Joplin Globe 21 Nov. 1937: B7.
  13. “Hallett Folks in Auto Crash.” Billboard 1 Jan. 1938: 29.
  14. “On the Radio.” Joplin Globe 13 Mar. 1938: B7.
  15. “Record Reviews: Teddy Grace.” Down Beat Sep. 1939: 18.
  16. “Many 'Star Men' are Alumni of the Crosby Orchestra.” Down Beat 1 Jun. 1940: 20.
  17. “On the Records: Milt Heath.” Billboard 10 Aug. 1940: 72.
  18. “Record Reviews: Teddy Grace.” Down Beat 15 Dec. 1940: 16.
  19. “On the Records: Teddy Grace.” Billboard 28 Dec. 1940: 138.
  20. “Record News: Sleepers.” Down Beat 1 Feb. 1941: 15.
  21. “On the Radio Today.” San Antonio Express 18 Mar. 1941: A-9.
  22. “On the Radio Today.” San Antonio Express 6 Jul. 1941: A-7.
  23. “Radio Review.” The San Antonio Light 10 Nov. 1941: 10-B.
  24. “Radio Schedule KDNT.” Denton, Texas, Record-Chronicle 26 Jan. 1942: 6.
  25. “WAAC Who Worked With Big-Name Bands to Be Here.” The Paris News [Paris, Texas] 15 Jun. 1943: 5.
  26. “Woman In Charge Army Recruiting.” The McKinney Daily Courier-Gazette [McKinney, Texas] 18 Aug. 1943: 1.
  27. “Camp Fannin Is Doing Its Part In War Loan.” Big Sandy News [Big Sandy, Texas] 17 Sep. 1943: 1.
  28. “Ravings at Reveille.” Down Beat 15 Feb. 1944: 13.
  29. “Ravings at Reveille.” Down Beat 15 Mar. 1944: 13.
  30. “Pretty WAC Here A Former Singer With Name Bands.” Northwest Arkansas Times [Fayetteville, Arkansas] 20 Jul. 1944: 7.
  31. Hoefer, George Jr. “The Hot Box.” Down Beat 4 Jun. 1947: 11.
  32. “Where Is?” Down Beat 2 Jun. 1950: 10.
  33. Hentoff, Nat. “Counterpoint.” Down Beat 8 Feb. 1956: 33.
  34. McCain, David W. Liner Notes. Turn On That Red Hot Heat. HEP Records 1997.