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Victoria Spivey

(October 15th 1906 - October 3rd 1976)

Born Victoria Regina Spivey in Houston, Texas in 1906 to a father who was a rail road flag man and part-time musician and a mother who was a nurse. She gained her first musical experience playing and singing in the family string band led by her father. Like her, Victoria's two sisters Addie "Sweet Peas" Spivey (1910 - 1943) and Elton Island Spivey Harris (1900 - 1971) would also go on to sing professionally. After the death of her father Victoria began playing piano for local parties and in 1918 was hired to accompany films at the Lincoln Theater in Dallas, Texas. In 1926 she moved to St. Louis, Missouri where she made her very first recording "Black Snake Blues" self accompanied on piano for Okeh Records and became an instant success. Relocating once more to New York City, Victoria remained with the Okeh label until 1929 when she switched to Victor. She recorded with some of the top names in jazz including Lonnie Johnson, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, and Red Allen. Pressing on throughout the 1930's and '40's the "Great Depression" did not stifle Victoria's career in the least. Following her role as Missy Rose in the all black sound film, "Hallelujah!"(1929) she continued to work on stage and screen including a part in the hit musical "Hellzapoppin"(1938).

After retiring in 1951 Victoria Spivey was content to spend the rest of her days devoted to her church playing the organ. Then in 1961 she returned to secular music reunited with her old duet partner, Lonnie Johnson, to sing four tracks on his Prestige/Bluesville album "Idle Hours". This record opened the door for her own come back and shortly there after she appeared on the album, "Songs We Taught Your Mother", with fellow jazz veterans Alberta Hunter and Lucille Hegamin. The folk music revival would provide so many opportunities in 1961 Victoria launched her own label Spivey Records with jazz and blues historian Len Kunstadt and in 1963 she joined the European tour of the American Folk Blues Festival.

Victoria Spivey died from an internal hemorrhage in New York on October 3rd 1976 at age of sixty-nine.

Videos:

Black Snake Blues/ No More Jelly Beans (6:31)

Dope Head Blues (3:14)

How Do They Do It That Way? (3:19)

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