Episode 97. Owen Williams and Leslie Scott

Episode 97. Owen Williams and Leslie Scott: Two Forgotten Black Pop Baritones

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Leslie Scott (ca. 1921 – 20 August 1969)

Today I present to you two Black baritones who made their mark in Europe and the United States over the course of several decades. Leslie Scott (ca. 1920-1969), who appeared on the State Department-sponsored tour of Porgy and Bess in the 1950s, and who played Jake in the now-obscure 1959 film version of the piece, began his career as a big-band singer. About his fellow singer, bass-baritone Owen Williams, I have been unable to discover much of anything, in spite of the fact that, like his compatriot Kenneth Spencer, he was featured in German film and television in the 1950s and 1960s and also recorded extensively in the 1960s, in his case, for Philips Records. Both Williams and Scott display undeniable vocal and interpretive gifts that are sometimes obscured by other factors, such as the tackiness of the arrangements and the pervasive and unchecked plantation nostalgia of the period, especially in Germany. Close examination of the recorded legacies of both Williams and Scott provides a partial glimpse into their lives and careers, even if too much of it today remains hidden in obscurity.

RECORDINGS HEARD IN THIS EPISODE

Traditional American, arr. Willy Hoffmann: Glory, Glory, Hallelujah [John Brown’s Body]. Owen Williams, Willy Hoffmann Orchester, Die Sunnies und die Cornels [1969]

Martha Flowers and Leslie Scott on the Porgy and Bess tour

George Gershwin, DuBose Heyward, Ira Gershwin: A Woman Is a Sometime Thing (Porgy and Bess). Leslie Scott, Orchestra conducted by André Previn [1959]

Saul Chaplin, Sammy Cahn, L.E. Freeman: Until the Real Thing Comes Along. Leslie Scott, Billy Moore, Jr. and His Orchestra [1947]

Harry Warren, Edgar Leslie: By the River Sainte Marie. Leslie Scott, Sy Oliver and His Orchestra [1950]

Vin Roddy, Janet Greene: Strange Mood. Leslie Scott, Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra [1950]

Henri Salvador, Glando [né Heinz Woezel], arr. Charles Nowa: Melodie d’amour. Owen Williams, Nana Gualdi [née Adriana Klein], Benny de Weille und sein Orchester [1958]

Michael Jary, Bruno Balz, arr. Charles Nowa: Wo scheint der Mond so schön wie hier in Alabama. Owen Williams, Nana Gualdi, Benny de Weille und sein Orchester [1958]

Sidney J. Wyche, Mayme Watts, German words by Kurt Hertha: Ich möcht’ heim nach Idaho [Okay, Alright, You Win]. Owen Williams, Orchester Charles Nowa [1959]

Paul Abraham, Alfred Grünwald, Fritz Löhner-Beda: Bin nur ein Jonny (Die Blume von Hawaii). Owen Williams, Orchester Charles Nowa [1959]

Traditional American, arr. Willy Hoffmann: We Shall Overcome. Owen Williams, Orchester Willy Hoffmann, Die Sunnies und die Cornels [1969]

Traditional American, arr. Willy Hoffmann, German words by Kurt Hertha: Der Regen [Swing Low, Sweet Chariot]. Owen Williams, Orchester Willy Hoffmann, Die Rosy-Singers [1966]

Traditional Spiritual, arr. Jan Corduwener: Swing Low, Sweet Chariot. Leslie Scott, Orchestra conducted by Jan Corduwener [1957]

George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin: Love Is Here to Stay. Leslie Scott, Orchestra conducted by Jan Corduwener [1957]

Harold Arlen, Yip Harburg: Over the Rainbow. Leslie Scott, Orchestra conducted by Jan Corduwener [1957]

Irene Williams

Unknown Composer: Please Scratch My Back. Leslie Scott, Irene Williams [1958]

Charles Trenet, English words by Albert Askew Beach: I Wish You Love [Que reste-t-il de nos amours?] Leslie Scott [mid-1960s]

Another “distinguished” release on the Rivoli Records label.

J.S. Lewis: John Henry Dead. Leslie Scott [mid-1960s]

Harry Warren, Mack Gordon: The More I See You. Leslie Scott [mid-1960s]

Harry Warren, Mack Gordon, German words by Karl Heinz Kröll [né Heinz Neumann]: Das kann nicht wahr sein [The More I See You]. Owen Williams, Orchester Willy Hoffmann, Die Rosy-Singers [1966]

Victor Young, Edward Heyman, German words by K. Hertha: Ein lieber Brief [Love Letters]. Owen Williams, Orchester Willy Hoffmann [1966]

Jerry Herman, German words by Janne Furch-Allers: Jerry Herman, German words by Janne Furch-Allers: Mame. Owen Williams, Orchester Willy Hoffmann, Die Rosy-Singers [1966]

Arthur Jordan, Mary Brennan, German words by Fred Oldörp: Eine Welt voll Clowns [World of Clowns]. Owen Williams, Orchester Horst Hartmann [1968]

Cy Coleman, Carolyn Leigh: The Best Is Yet To Come. Leslie Scott [mid-1960s]

Arthur Kent, Sylvia Dee, German words by Kurt Hertha: Wenn die Freunde von dir geh’n [Half a World Away]. Owen Williams, Orchester Willy Hoffmann, Die Cornel-Singers [1966]

Ralph Rainger, Leo Robin: Thanks for the Memory. Leslie Scott, Orchestra conducted by Jan Corduwener [1957]

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