HEY LOCO FANS – Today is the birthday of blues singer Ada Scott Brown who was born on this day way back in 1890. She is probably best known for her recordings of “Ill Natural Blues”, “Break o’ Day Blues”, and “Evil Mama Blues.
Brown was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas. Billed in her day as “Queen of Blues,” Ada Brown is often omitted from the annals of jazz greats.
She was born into a musically inclined family and sang in church as a child before launching her career in 1910 at Bob Mott’s Pekin Theater in Chicago. Her cousin James Scott was a ragtime composer and pianist. Her early career was spent primarily on stage in musical theater and vaudeville.
She reportedly worked clubs in Paris and Berlin, then became a regular with the Bennie Moten Band during the early 1920s. From the mid-1920s, Brown did widespread theater tours throughout the U.S. and Canada, and appeared in black revues and musical comedies up and down Broadway.
She recorded with Bennie Moten in 1926. The track “Evil Mama Blues” is possibly the earliest recording of Kansas City jazz. In addition to her time with Moten, she did several tours alongside bandleaders such as George E. Lee.
Brown was featured at the London Palladium in the late ’30s. She sang “That Ain’t Right” with Fats Waller in the musical film Stormy Weather (1943).
She also appeared in Harlem to Hollywood, accompanied by Harry Swannagan. Brown was featured on two tracks of the compilation album Ladies Sing the Blues (“Break o’ Day Blues” and “Evil Mama Blues”).
One of her last appearances was in Memphis Bound (1945), shortly before her retirement.
She moved to Kansas City, Kansas, after leaving music, and died there of kidney disease in 1950.
One interesting side-note – Brown was a founding member of the Negro Actors Guild of America in 1936.
Ada Brown – Evil Mama Blues