The International Sweethearts of Rhythm …By The Music Restoration Place

The International Sweethearts of Rhythm
an all-female big band that was perhaps one of the few
 — and one of the most — racially integrated dance-bands of the 
swing era.

I thought I should share this amazing female band with you all who are not familiar with The International Sweethearts of Rhythm. I totally was not until I found this article and video amongst others on You Tube.

From the Piney Woods School in the Mississippi Delta to the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York City, this toe-tapping music film tells the story of the swinging, multi-racial all-women jazz band of the 1940s. A 16 piece band with a strong brass section, heavy percussion, and a deep rhythmic sense, the Sweethearts were not just a novelty but featured many of the best female musicians of the day. Starring Anna Mae Winburn, Ernestine “Tiny” Davis, Vi Burnside, Roz Cron, Evelyn McGee Stone, Helen Jones, Helen Saine, and Pauline Brady, of whom drummer Panama Francis says, “She played drums like a man!”

They were the top female jazz/swing band of the 1940’s. Though they don’t get much recognition and attention like Duke Ellington and Count Basie and never were inducted into the Jazz or Swing or Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, these women were just as good as the men and could really swing hot jazz, they were talented and plus beautiful…and here’s the proof. Anna Mae Winburn, the bandleader, led the band with beauty, elegance, style, and glamour. Tiny Davis was the big personality of the band and she could blow…both vocally and trumpet.

There were many female bands in the 30’s and 40’s but the International Sweethearts of Rhythm was number one! All the female bands back then were great, but they never got a chance to be superstars, never got inducted into the Jazz/Swing Hall of Fame because of sexism and racism., Women were expected to sing, not play instruments (maybe piano if anything), arrange, direct, produce, nor write, even today this sexism in music still exists. So these women were pioneers!

The Harlem PlayGirls, Darlings of Rhythm, Ina Ray Hutton and Her Band, Rita Rio and Her Band, Lorraine Page and her Band, Ada Leonard All American Girl Orchestra, Thelma White and Her Girls, Frances Carroll and Her Band, and Ivy Benson and Her Orchestra, all these white and black female bands are pioneers.

However, this band was considered to be the most racially integrated dance-bands of the entire swing era. Latina, Asian, Caucasian, Black, Indian and Puerto Rican women came together and created music that more than held its own in the Swing Era. Take a listen to their music and see footage online. Enjoy this great music, and check out some other videos from the Talented and Beautiful International Sweethearts of Rhythm.  

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