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Rosetta Howard is sometimes thought of as a classic blues singer but she actually came up during a slightly later era. Not much is known about her life. Howard began singing professionally in 1932 and she worked in Chicago and later on New York throughout the 1930s with the Harlem Hamfats and individually with Herb Morand and Odell Rand. During 1937-39 and 1947, she recorded 40 selections, proving herself to be a versatile singer able to bridge the gap between classic blues and swing. Her 1937-38 recordings were with the Harlem Hamfats and were reissued on two Document CDs. A CD put out by the Austrian RST label has all of her later recordings. The two 1939 dates are a session with the Harlem Blues Serenaders (which includes Charlie Shavers, Buster Bailey and Lil Armstrong) and one with a quintet that features Henry "Red" Allen and Barney Bigard. Howard performed with a variety of mostly-obscure musicians in Chicago during 1940-46 (other than clarinetist Jimmie Noone) and then in 1947 was featured on 12 interesting recordings with Chicago blues stars of the period including the Big Three (with bassist Willie Dixon) and guitarist Big Bill Broonzy. But although she sounds quite at home in this "modern" setting, the records did not sell (some were not issued at the time) and Rosetta Howard never recorded again. She worked in the 1950s in the religious field with Thomas Dorsey at the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago and slipped away into obscurity. Fortunately all of her recordings are currently available.
Rosetta Howard (1914 - 1974) was an American blues singer, who recorded in the 1930s and 1940s.
Little is known of her life. She was born in Chicago, Illinois, United States, and moved into singing by joining in with jukebox selections at the club where she worked. Around 1932 she began singing professionally with Jimmy Noone and other bandleaders. From 1937 she made a number of recordings with The Harlem Hamfats, including her paean to marijuana, "If You're a Viper", and the ribald "Let Your Linen Hang Low". The latter was noted by one music journalist as "Howard engaging Kansas Joe McCoy in sexy banter". She also recorded with Herb Morand and Odell Rand who were both members of the group. In 1939 she recorded with the Harlem Blues Serenaders, who included Charlie Shavers, Buster Bailey, Lil Armstrong, Henry "Red" Allen and Barney Bigard.
She continued to perform in Chicago in the 1940s, and in 1947 featured on recordings with the Big Three, including Willie Dixon, and Big Bill Broonzy. However, the records were unsuccessful and she did not record again. In the 1950s she sang with Thomas A. Dorsey at the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Chicago.
Howard died in Chicago in 1974.