After high school, Gloria boosted her career ambitions by attending Patricia Stevens Finishing School in Atlanta and began her professional singing career as Gloria Bennett. Gloria cites June Christy, Julie London and the Four Freshmen as her early musical inspirations. She entered the Miss Atlanta Contest at age 19, and her rendition of “Walking My Baby Back Home” won her recognition as “Most Talented” runner-up.
Stints fronting various Atlanta dance bands followed and she toured heavily for several months as vocalist with George Doerner’s seven-piece, Savannah-based society dance band. During her tenure with Doerner’s band, Gloria performed a six-week engagement in New York City’s Roseland Ballroom. She became enraptured with jazz singing and remained in New York where she took a job as part-time secretary to Woody Herman’s manager’s office. She met various musicians there before she was hired for a long-term gig at the Rainbow Room with the Jerry Wald Orchestra.
One day, Woody’s friend (and Gloria’s main inspiration) Kai Winding dropped into the office. He was interested in adding a singer to his jazz septet. Gloria auditioned and was hired. She toured with Winding’s septet for nearly a year before she left the group to get married. She eventually moved back to Atlanta where she raised her son and daughter. During this time, Gloria sang occasionally in local clubs, for private engagements and charity events, and she hooked up for the first time with South Carolina pianist Jim Belt singing commercials.
By 1994, Gloria began to focus afresh on her singing career, refining her versatile chops for a couple of years with the Gainesville Community Black Gospel Mass Choir (“the only white face up there”) and a year with the Piedmont College Chorale, as well as locally performing as soloist at a jazz mass with her trio, and in theater productions. Gloria has also worked behind the scenes to promote live jazz in the Gainesville area, and she has also performed in the Gainesville Arts Council’s, “Evenings of Intimate Jazz” series for three concerts. In 1997, she renewed her working relationship with Jim Belt and recorded her CD, “Love Had Its Way”.
Gloria has also served as coordinator and performer with the Gainesville Arts Council’s Singers Open Mic. With her jazz/blues trio, she has worked in a variety of venues, mostly in the Atlanta area. Her trio consists of a keyboardist/singer, an acoustic bassist/singer and Gloria sings and plays the cocktail drum.
"LOVE HAD IT'S WAY is a beautiful collection of songs which are romantic, timeless and well-loved. Gloria proves her talent and brings these songs to new magnification with the turning and maneuvering of vocals which are not only smooth and pleasing but satisfying. She doesn't leave you yearning for that one twist of a note or phrase which adds 'completeness.' The entire CD is musically competent and it is evident that Gloria has not only made this her personal art, but is able to share this lovely gift with others in an impressive way.
"I have also had the good fortune to be able to see Gloria perform live. She's just as adept on stage as she is in a studio. She brings class and elegance as added components. So, here's another color for the rainbow ... LOVE HAD ITS WAY ... I highly recommend it."