Martha Tilton
Martha Tilton
Big-band songbird "Liltin'" Martha Tilton enjoyed her greatest renown during her two-year stint with the Benny Goodman Orchestra. Featured on Goodman's smash rendition of the swing-era classic "And the Angels Sing," she was also the first non-classical vocalist to perform at Carnegie Hall. Born November 14, 1915, in Corpus Christi, TX, Tilton spent the majority of her adolescence in Los Angeles, where as a high school student she began moonlighting with bandleader Sid Lippman on the radio show Coconut Grove. A three-year stint with the Hal Grayson Band followed before Tilton joined the vocal quartet Three Hits and a Miss in 1936. A year later, she joined the Jimmy Dorsey Band, and appeared as a lounge singer in the classic Hollywood comedy Topper. Soon after Goodman arrived in Tinseltown to film Hollywood Hotel and conduct auditions to replace his previous vocalist Helen Ward, and within days of landing the gig, Tilton joined the band on tour, not returning to L.A. for two years. Acclaimed for her clear, lovely vocals and straightforward interpretive style, Tilton's performance was a highlight of the Goodman Orchestra's landmark January 16, 1938, appearance at New York's Carnegie Hall, the first showcase of its kind awarded to a swing group. Her rendition of "Lock Lomond" earned the longest ovation of the evening, and her growing fame was further solidified via the 1939 Johnny Mercer composition "And the Angels Sing," the biggest hit of her 80-odd Goodman recordings.
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