“I had a huge voice when I was just eight years old,” says Mary Stallings about her beginnings as a singer. It was a voice too big to ignore – spanning almost four octaves. Few could. By the time she was 11, she had made her first solo recording and while still in high school she joined Louis Jordan’s Tympani Five. She came of age in the big band era, and was invited to tour as vocalist with most of the major names of the time. “It was the best musical education I could have had,” explains Mary, “I was fired from lessons for playing everything from memory.” Instead, her education came a bit more unconventionally, including stints with the Grover Mitchell – Earl “Father” Hines band, three years touring the U.S. and Europe with Count Basie, and sharing the bill with Joe Williams, Tony Bennett and Ella Fitzgerald. “I met all the heroes of the music and then got a chance to work with them,” she says.
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