Creoles meet President Lincoln

Savannah Churchhill..

The Creole Queen Of R&B




Savannah Churchill was born Savannah Valentine on August 21, 1920 in Colfax, LA. Her first two records were for Joe Davis' Beacon label, recorded and released in 1942. The labels first credited "Jimmy Lytell and his All Star Seven, Vocal Refrain by Savannah Churchill". Both records became hits, selling several hundred thousand copies. Due to Savannah's resultant popularity, Davis changed the labels to "Savannah Churchill and her All Star Seven" for future issues.

Savannah next joined Benny Carter's Orchestra in 1943, recording at least five sides. This resulted in two Capitol releases, one side each with "Vocal by Savannah Churchill".

In 1945, Irving Berman signed Savannah to Manor Records. Her third record for Manor, "I Want To Be Loved", was her first with a vocal group. Their name was The Sentimentalists, a male group derived from The Brown Dots and soon to become The Four Tunes. One of The Sentimentalists, Pat Best, was a major factor in "I Want To Be Loved" becoming a big hit. He wrote the song (even though credit is given to Savannah on the label) and coached her in how she should sing it.



Of Creole Heritage

From here on, male vocal groups would back most of Savannah's records. Next came two releases on Manor with backing by The Five Kings. Then, eight records on Manor and one on Arco, all with The Four Tunes on one or both sides. Arco was the new name for Manor starting in late 1949. Then came two more releases on Arco in 1950 followed by another two on Regal in late 1950 and early 1951, all backed by The Striders.

There was one record issued on Columbia in 1948. These were two sides that Savannah and The Four Tunes had recorded, but not released, for Manor.

In 1951, Savannah signed with RCA Victor resulting in five releases, all with vocal group backing. The first release was backed by The Four Tunes, who had moved to RCA Victor in 1949. The next three RCA Victor releases were backed by The Striders and the last by a pickup group. In 1951, Savannah, along with The Striders, appeared at the London Palladium.

In 1953, Savannah went to another major label, Decca, producing five releases. The first is without vocal group on either side. The remainder have vocal groups on all sides, two with The Ray Charles Singers and the final two with an unknown "Quartet".

There was one more release of note in 1956 on Argo, a subsidiary of Chess Records. This record has an unknown vocal group on both sides.

Savannah died from pneumonia on April 20, 1974, leaving behind an abundance of consistently excellent records, including releases on four of the major labels.

Last Updated: 6/5/05

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Her Creole Heritage

the original Queen of Rhythm & the sho nuff Blues.






Savannah Churchill, the original Queen of Rhythm & the sho nuff Blues. Savannah was born in Colfax, Louisiana on August 21, 1920 from Creole parents. Jobs and opportunities were scarce in places like Colfax, Louisiana so the Churchill family joined the African Migration North. The family packed their things and moved to Brooklyn, New York where Savannah would grow up to become a fine young lady.

Savannah’s experience started out just like any experience for African American New Yorkers in the 1930’s. This was during America's Great Depression. However, it was business as usual for many of the black immigrants from the Southern United States. Struggle was their life's story and the Blues was their soundtrack.

Savannah married young, but the marriage was cut short when her husband died in a car accident. The tragedy left the 2o year old Savannah with two children to support on her own. Savannah set out to find work and the year was 1941.

While many black women of the time would’ve searched for work as a domestic Savannah decided to pursue a career in singing. She felt she had a good chance to make it in the business. Besides, she was young, pretty, and she possessed a beautiful, smoky alto voice. So, Savannah set out and played gigs in different spots around town.



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Of Creole Heritage


Soon people began to know about this Creole sensation from Brooklyn by way of Colfax, LA. By 1942 Savannah had recorded two hit singles with Beacon Records. The songs were the risqué “Fat Meat is Good Meat” and “Two Faced Man.” The success from these songs and the exposure launched Savannah Churchill’s singing career. Her other hits included the songs, “I Want to Be Loved,” “Once There Lived A Fool,” and “Ain'tcha Glad I Love You.”

Savannah enjoyed success throughout the 4os and 50s singing all over the country including an invitation to sing in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1954. Unfortunately, tragedy would strike a second time. The year was 1956. Savannah was singing on stage one evening when a drunken man fell from a balcony above her.

The man’s full weight fell on top of Savannah; this incident, coupled with fate, would end the career of a beautiful and talented singer. Death, however, did not arrive in an instant. According to Savannah Churchill’s granddaughter, Audrey Churchill, Savannah Churchill developed cancer of the esophagus from years of cigarette smoking. She stated:

“While she did suffer for quite some time as a result of the injury from the man falling on her during her performance, she did not die from that injury. My grandmother was a smoker, as were most people during that time, and she developed cancer of her esophogus, which permanently ended any possibilities of singing

. The operations for treating the cancer meant she was in and out of the hospital many times over the years. However, later she fell down the stairs and broke her hip, which landed her back into the hopital where she developed pneumonia and died. She was survived by her mother Hazel Roberts, who continued to live in the house well into 1990's.”

Savannah Churchill

died on April 19, 1974 at the age of 53. Savannah Churchill, the original Queen of Rhythm & the sho nuff Blues.



.Californias' name sake






Savannah Churchill goes in to gospel music...Click on article to enlarge print

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