Obituary: Ivy Benson
IVY BENSON was not the first woman to direct a band, nor did she claim to be so. Over in the US there were Ina Ray Hutton and her Melodears and Dolly Dawn and her Dawn Patrol. In England there were Blanche Coleman and Gloria Faye, but they, unlike Ivy Benson, are forgotten names today.
In 1938 the Canadian violinist Teddy Joyce - who in the early Thirties had directed the resident band at the Kit-Cat Restaurant in London - was fronting a 24-girl band with Benson as his lead alto saxophonist. By the early Forties she had become a bandleader herself.
Benson's unofficial appointment as the BBC's 'house bandleader' made her the target of much venom from male contemporaries who considered anything Benson did they could do better, but it was the making of Ivy Benson and her all-girls band. Male prejudice against Benson seems to have permeated reference books on the band scene, few of which even deign to mention her name.
Benson only recorded sparsely, her three sessions for HMV resulting in 12 sides made between October 1943 and January 1944. Her vocalists were Kay Yorston, who also played the string bass, Rita Williams, a highly regarded singer, a girl calling herself Georgina and Billy Thorburn.
Ivy Benson came late to the band- leading business, which by the 1950s was in terminal decline, but the band was a capable and very popular unit undeserving of criticism aimed at it by jealous contemporaries. Benson's female 'sidemen' were competent musicians, expertly directed, and it is unreasonable that the band should be disregarded by those who write about the waltz and foxtrot years.
From the blogs
A slight deviation from style this week and admittedly a bit weird, but at least I can finally say I...
Owen Howells is a DJ/producer who grew up in Australia but was born in the UK. He came back to the U...
Justice, the bedrock of our society is for sale under the Government’s latest plan to sell legal aid...
Take inspiration from the green-fingered brigade who have been showing off their creativity at the R...
Emergency landing at Heathrow sparks further controversy over London airport capacity
Unrest may spread across Europe, warns Red Cross chief
French government seeks to ban extreme right-wing group
BNP and EDL accused of attempt to fuel racial hatred after Woolwich terror attack
You want to get an Eton scholarship? All you need to do is answer four (not so simple) questions
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 3 Exclusive: How MI5 blackmails British Muslims
- 4 Lord of the Sings: Sir Christopher Lee, 91, to release heavy metal album
- 5 Exclusive: Woolwich killings suspect Michael Adebolajo was inspired by cleric banned from UK after urging followers to behead enemies of Islam
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.