Martha Tilton (November 14, 1915, Corpus Christi, Texas -December 8, 2006, Brentwood, California) was an American popular singer, best-known for her 1939 recording of "And the Angels Sing" with Benny Goodman. She was sometimes introduced as The Liltin' Miss Tilton.
Tilton and her family lived in Texas and Kansas, relocating to Los Angeles when she was seven years old. While attending Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, she was singing on a small radio station when she was heard by an agent who signed her and began booking her with larger stations. She then dropped out of school in the 11th grade to join Hal Grayson's band.
After singing with the quartet, Three Hits and a Miss, she joined the Myer Alexander chorus on Benny Goodman's radio show, Camel Caravan. Goodman hired Tilton as a vocalist with his band in August 1937. She was with Goodman in January 1938, when the band performed the first jazz performance at Carnegie Hall. She continued to appear as Goodman's star vocalist through the end of 1939.
Tilton had a major success from 1942 to 1949 as one of the first artists to record for Capitol Records. Her first recording for Capitol was "Moon Dreams", Capitol 138, with Orchestra and The Mellowaires, composed by Johnny Mercer and Glenn Miller pianist Chummy MacGregor in 1942. "Moon Dreams" would be recorded by Glenn Miller in 1944 and by Miles Davis in 1950. Among her biggest hits as a solo artist were "I'll Walk Alone," a wartime ballad which rose to #4 on the charts in 1944; "I Should Care" and "A Stranger in Town," which both peaked at #10 in 1945; and three in 1947: "How Are Things in Glocca Morra" from Finian's Rainbow, which climbed to #8; "That's My Desire", which hit #10; and "I Wonder, I Wonder, I Wonder", which reached #9.
After she left Capitol, Tilton recorded for other labels, including Coral and Tops. Among her later albums was We Sing the Old Songs (1957, Tops), a mix of older songs and recent standards with baritone Curt Massey, who later became well-known as the composer (with Paul Henning) and singer of the theme song for the CBS-TV series Petticoat Junction.
Reviewing the two-CD set, The Liltin' Miss Tilton, (Capitol, 2000), critic Don Heckman wrote:
There are those who would say that Martha Tilton wasn't a jazz singer at all. But swing-era fans won't have any doubts, remembering her for a rocking version of "Loch Lomond" at Benny Goodman's 1938 Carnegie Hall concert.
Massey and Tilton starred in Alka-Seltzer Time, a 15-minute radio series broadcast weekdays on both CBS and Mutual. Sponsored by Alka-Seltzer, this show began in 1949 as Curt Massey Time (sometimes advertised as Curt Massey Time with Martha Tilton) with a title change to highlight the sponsor's product by 1952.
By 1953, the series was heard simultaneously on Mutual (at noon) and later that same day on CBS (at 5:45pm). Ads described the show as "informal song sessions" by vocalists Massey and Tilton, who was often billed as "The liltin' Martha Tilton." The two Texas-born singers performed with Country Washburne and His Orchestra, featuring Charles LaVere on piano. The series ended November 6, 1953.
However, Massey and Tilton continued to appear together during the late 1950s on such shows as Guest Star and Stars for Defense. They also teamed to record an album, We Sing the Old Songs (1957). Tilton and Massey also co-hosted a daily half-hour TV show in Los Angeles for approximately seven years.
Her movies include Sunny (1941), Swing Hostess (1944), Crime, Inc. (1945), and The Benny Goodman Story (1956). Her last film appearance was as the band vocalist in the TV movie Queen of the Stardust Ballroom (1975). Tilton's singing voice was used for other actresses including Barbara Stanwyck, Martha O'Driscoll, and Anne Gwynne. She also appeared in several Soundies musical films of the 1940s.
Her sister, Liz Tilton, also seen in Soundies, sang with Ken Baker (mid-1930s), Buddy Rogers, Bob Crosby (1941), and Jan Garber (1942).
Here is her Obit, from 2006:
Martha Tilton, 91; Swing-Band Vocalist And '40s Solo Artist
By Adam BernsteinWashington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Martha Tilton, 91, a glamorous blond singer of the big-band era called "Liltin' Miss Tilton" for her easy-mannered vocals and the last surviving star of Benny Goodman's landmark 1938 swing concert at Carnegie Hall, died Dec. 8 at her home in Los Angeles. No cause of death was given by the family.
Within a few years of quitting high school, Ms. Tilton was performing with Goodman, a moody clarinetist-bandleader who led one of the country's top swing bands. Goodman hired her after his favorite singer, Helen Ward, left to get married, and he was never entirely satisfied with any of her successors, whether Ms. Tilton, Helen Forrest or Peggy Lee.
Still, as a featured vocalist with Goodman from 1937 to 1939, Ms. Tilton recorded more than 80 songs, among them the definitive version of Ziggy Elman and Johnny Mercer's "And the Angels Sing." She also received ovations after singing "Loch Lomond" and "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon" at the band's Carnegie Hall concert on Jan. 16, 1938.
Held at an august location, Goodman's concert was considered a musical benchmark because it bestowed cultural legitimacy on a fairly new form of dance music and its jitterbugging young fans.
Ms. Tilton appeared at the concert with such estimable Goodman sidemen as trumpeter Harry James, pianist Teddy Wilson and drummer Gene Krupa. But by the next year, a series of defections and firings left Goodman frustrated.
Metronome magazine jazz critic George T. Simon wrote: "Benny, in a masterful display of tactlessness, suggested to Martha Tilton that as long as so many were leaving, perhaps she'd like to go, too. Martha probably didn't want to go, and certainly the men in the band, who had become attached to her, didn't want her to. But with Benny acting as he did, there was very little else she could do. She was immediately replaced by a very vivacious and pretty Texan, Mrs. Harry James, better known as Louise Tobin."
Ms. Tilton had a vibrant career as a solo artist for several more years. She appeared often on radio, went on USO tours and starred in two films for zero-budget PRC studios ("Swing Hostess" and "Crime, Inc."). She dubbed the singing voices of major film stars, notably Barbara Stanwyck during Krupa's thrilling "Drum Boogie" routine in "Ball of Fire" (1941).
The next year, Ms. Tilton was among the first artists signed by Capitol Records, a company co-founded by her friend Johnny Mercer. She spent much of the 1940s recording early versions of songs that became standards, such as "I'll Walk Alone," "How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" and "A Stranger in Town."
"If she's not quite one of the immortals -- a Doris Day or a Margaret Whiting -- she comes darn close, and on the 44 Capitol sides is at least frequently in the orbit of, say, Dinah Shore," jazz authority Will Friedwald wrote.
Martha Ellen Tilton was born Nov. 14, 1915, in Corpus Christi, Tex., and raised in Los Angeles, where her father was a banker. She came from a close-knit musical family, and her sister, Liz Tilton, sang with Bob Crosby and Jan Garber, among other big-band leaders, in the 1930s and 1940s.
Martha Tilton had no particular career aspirations until a friend of her father's heard her sing and got her an audition at a local radio station. That led to work singing at the Ambassador Hotel's Coconut Grove, followed by a stint touring with Hal Grayson's band.
In 1937, she was singing with a popular vocal quartet called "Three Hits and a Miss" that was hired for Goodman's "Camel Caravan" radio program. Not long after, she was hired to replace Ward, after a strange audition in which Goodman mysteriously left the room in the middle of her song.
She largely retired after marrying a World War II flying ace and aerospace executive in 1953 but reprised "And the Angels Sing" for the film "The Benny Goodman Story" in 1955.
Her two early marriages, to Dave Thomas and former Goodman manager Leonard Vannerson, ended in divorce. A son from her first marriage died.
Survivors include her third husband, James L. Brooks of Los Angeles; a son from her second marriage; a daughter from her third marriage; and five grandchildren.
And.............Here's Part 1........... :)
(Gotta Get Some) Shut Eye (Tengo que irme a dormir) 1939-Benny Goodman Orch,
A Fine Romance-Johnny Mercer/Martha Tilton 1946
Alice Blue Gown-1938 (from the film "Irene"**not 1941-Command Performance, as noted on the file**)
All of me-1947 w/ Ernie Felice
And the angels sing -w/ Goodman May 2, 1939 CBS(WBBM) Airplay Theater,Chicago /Camel Caravan
And the angels sing-w/ Goodman 1939
As If I Didn't Have Enough On My Mind-with the Paul Weston Orchestra 1945
Ballin' the jack-duet with Hal Derwin; with Frank DeVol Orchestra 1949
Bei Mir Bist Du Schon-16 jan 1938-w/ Goodman
Besame Mucho-22 april 1944 Command Performance
Beyond The Blue Horizon- 1945 vdisc-Martha Tilton and Her V-Disc Playfellows
Blossoms On Broadway 1937- At the Madhattan Room with Goodman
Blow Gabriel Blow-with Dean Elliot Orchestra 1947
Blue Champagne-11-4-1941 4 Fibber McGee and Molly broadcast -Billy Mills Orch
Bob White 1937- At the Madhattan Room with Goodman
Bob White-1937- w/ Goodman
Can't Teach My Old Heart New Tricks-1937- w/ Goodman
Come to Baby do-Kraft Music Hall (NBC) 02/28/1946-w/ The John Scott Trotter Orch.
Coming Through the Rye-1942 w/ The Gordon Jenkins Orch
Could You Pass In Love-1938- w/ Goodman
Cuckoo in the Clock- Camel Caravan - 02/07/1939 (Hartford) w/ Goodman
Dancing on air- ( from a 1940 soundie)
Dixieland Band- Camel Caravan (Los Angeles) 08/31/1937 w/ Goodman
Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree- 1942 broadcast...(Command Performance?)
Down the Stairs, Out the Door (Went My Baby)- 1947 unreleased Capitol recording w/ and the Dean Elliot Orch.
Exactly Like You- 1946 unreleased w/ Carl Kresstette
Farewell My Love- 1937- At the Madhattan Room w/ Goodman
Feelin' High And Happy-1938 w/ Goodman
G'bye Now -1943 w/ the Gordon Jenkins Orch
Good For Nuthin But Love- 1939 w/ Goodman
Got Love - from "Varsity Vanities" (1940)
Guilty- From the 1945 film, "Crime, Inc."