While the producers of Soundies clearly understood the appeal and importance of black music and dance, they strangely avoided rhythm-and-blues, which grew in popularity during the war years. There were exceptions, of course, and one was Roy Milton’s six-piece combo, usually billed as his Solid Senders, which made three superb Soundies in 1944.
The first, Hey, Lawdy Mama, can be found on this site in the section labeled “Watch,” under June Richmond’s name. Here we featured another Soundie in the series, 47th Street Jive. As with the first short, this film features the fine blues singing of June Richmond. She had worked with both Jimmy Dorsey and Cab Calloway before a lengthy stint with Andy Kirk and his Orchestra. The Soundie publicity materials suggest that she was an “add on” for the date, and not performing with Roy at the time.
All of the members of the group, save for string bassist Red Callender, have brief solo statements. Perhaps most special is Camille Howard, one of a handful of outstanding female pianists who were active in Los Angeles in the mid 1940s. (Julia Lee, Nellie Lutcher, Hadda Brooks and Lady Will Carr come to mind.) At the time this Soundie was produced, Roy Milton and the band, sans June Richmond, were booked at the Creole Palace in Hollywood. So, let’s head down to Vine Street, just north of Hollywood Blvd., and dig the sounds!