60s Music

Teresa Brewer – the Versatile Singer

Teresa Brewer
Cropped screenshot of Teresa Brewer from the trailer for the film Those Redheads From Seattle (1953). (Source: Wikipedia)

Introduction to Teresa Brewer

Teresa Brewer was an American popular singer. She started singing when she was quite young, and began her recording career as a novelty singer. Her first big hit was the novelty single “Music! Music! Music!” in 1949, when she was about 18 years old. As a novelty singer she followed this up with another novelty single “Choo’n Gum.” She emerged as a versatile artist, incorporating pop, jazz and R&B. Her other earlier hits include “Till I Waltz Again With You,” “Dancin’ & Someone,” “Ricochet,” “Baby Baby Baby,” “Our Heartbreaking Waltz,” “Bell Bottom Blues,” “Jilted,” “Let Me Go,” “The Banjo’s Back In Town,” “A Tear Fell,” “Bo Weevil,” “A Sweet Old Fashioned Girl,” “You Send Me” and others. Brewer’s marriage to second husband, jazz producer and record owner Bob Thiele, gave her career a renaissance as a jazz singer during much of the 1980s and the 1990s, recording a long string of releases on Thiele’s record labels. She collaborated with other jazz luminaries such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Hines and Bobby Hackett. In 2007 Brewer died in New York, aged 76.

Teresa Brewer’s early start in showbusiness

Teresa Brewer was an American singer. Although she was more commonly connected to pop music, Brewer was a versatile artist who performed in many other genres.

She was born Theresa Veronica Breuer in Toledo, Ohio on May 7, 1931. As a child she didn’t take any singing lessons although she did take formal tap dancing lessons. Although quite young, five-year-old Brewer was already a professional entertainer who performed on the popular touring radio show called “Major Bowes Amateur Hour,” which she apperaed until she would hit puberty. She went on to win local singing competitions that led her to make an appearance on a New York-based talent show called “Stairway to the Stars” featuring Eddie Dowling.

 

Brewer’s signature song “Music! Music! Music!”

While still a teenager, Brewer secured her first recording contract from London Records in 1949. Her first single was “Copenhagen” b/w “Music! Music! Music!” Surprisingly, it was the B-side “Music! Music! Music!” that garnered more attention. The track was recorded by Brewer along with the Dixieland All Stars. The single climbed all the way to #1 on the national charts in 1950, and became Brewer’s signature song.

The hit established the young Brewer as a novelty hit maker, and she released another novelty song called “Choo’n Gum” which became a Top 20 hit (at #17) in 1950. Theresa personally preferred to sing ballads, but the only song of this kind that she performed was “Longing For You,” which made to the top 40 in 1951. During this period she had already been recording for a new label, Coral.

 

Versatile singer

From churning out novelty numbers, Brewer had grown to be a versatile singer — she could sing country, R&B, and jazz. Examples of her R&B songs and covers include “Pledging My Love” (#17 pop, 1955), “Twiddle Dee,” “You Send Me” (#8 pop, 1957), and “Empty Arms.” (#13 pop, 1957). Her country numbers include “Jilted” (#6 pop, 1954), “I Gotta Go Get My Baby,” and “Let Me Go, Lover!” (#6 pop, 1954).

Brewer’s other notable hits include “Till I Waltz Again” (#1 pop, 1952), “Ricochet” (#2 pop, 1953), “A Tear Fell” (#5 pop, #2 UK, 1956), “A Sweet Od Fashioned Girl” (#7 pop, #3 UK, 1956), and a lot of Top 40 hits.

Brewer also duetted with crooner Don Cornell in “You’ll Never Get Away” in 1952, and with New York Yankees baseball player Mickey Mantle in “I Love Mickey” in 1956.

By the early 1960s Brewer’s chart-making power gradually began to slip. Her last major label was Philips, where she signed in the early 1960s. After Philips, she recorded for other labels, but no further hits were forthcoming. By then rock and roll had engulfed the entire nation, and Brewer found herself to have no place in the most recent musical trend.

Later life and career; collaboration with husband Bob Thiele

In the 1970s she released a handful of albums on Flying Dutchman Records, owned by her second husband, jazz producer Bob Thiele. She also released other albums under Thiele’s four or so many other labels (Doctor Jazz, Signature, Amsterdam and Red Baron imprints). This led Brewer to re-invent herself as a jazz artist during the 1980s and 1990s, mostly recording tribute albums to such jazz luminaries as Count Basie, Benny Carter, Duke Ellington, Bessie Smith, Stephane Grappelli, Earl Hines, Clark Terry, Dizzy Gillespie and many others.

When her husband Thiele died in 1996, Brewer stopped recording altogether. Brewer died in New Rochelle, New York on October 17, 2007, aged 76. During her lifetime and career she had been one of the most prolific artists, having recorded 600 titles.

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