- 1920s - 1936
The Boswell Sisters were an American all-female singing group of three sisters: Martha (June 9, 1905 – July 2, 1958), Connee (December 3, 1907 – October 11, 1976), and Helvetia (May 20, 1911 – November 12, 1988). They were noted for their close harmonies and unconventional renditions of popular songs, and are considered some of the first stars of mass entertainment due to their success on the radio. The group was a huge influence on later female singers such as the Andrews Sisters and Ella Fitzgerald.
Raised in New Orleans, the sisters got into ragtime and jazz and were performing regularly in vaudeville shows in their early teens. They signed with Victor Records in 1925 and toured for several years before settling in Los Angeles in 1929 and began appearing in radio programs and recording music for films. They did not attract national attention, however, until they moved to New York in 1930 and started singing in national radio broadcasts. They recorded for Brunswick Records between 1931 and 1935, issuing a series of recordings with the Glenn Miller Orchestra that are now considered milestones of vocal jazz for their experimentation with rhythm, harmony, and tempo. They also performed in several movies and toured Europe twice during the same period. In 1936 the trio signed with Decca, but suddenly broke up soon after. Connee continued a successful solo career with Decca into the 1940s, performing on the radio with Bing Crosby on a number of occasions, as well as singing in several more films.