Hadda Brooks / Rhythm and Blues

Hadda Brooks

Dubbed the Queen Of The Boogie, Hadda Brooks recorded blues, boogie-woogie, jazz, torch songs and R&B over a sixty-year career.

She grew up in Boyle Heights in the Los Angeles area; her mother was a doctor and her father was a deputy sheriff. Her grandfather, Samuel Alexander Hopgood (1857–1944), who introduced her to the world of theater and opera, had a great influence on her musical development. She later took classical music lessons from the Italian piano teacher Florence Bruni, with whom she worked for 20 years. After graduating from the University of Chicago, she returned to Los Angeles and met vaudeville entertainer and singer Bert Williams.

Brooks, with a doctorate in music, began her professional career as a pianist in the early 1940s when she found work at a tap dance studio owned by choreographer and dancer Willie Covan. She has worked with film stars such as Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and Shirley Temple. During this time, Brooks was briefly married to Earl "Shug" Morrison, who belonged to the Harlem Globetrotters and died after a year.

In 1945 she was asked by Jules Bihari to write a boogie within a week.
"If you can do a boogie, my label is in business, otherwise I'll lose 800 dollars.
In September 1945 her first 78 appeared, her own composition "Swingin' the Boogie"; the pianist, advertised as Queen of the Boogie, stylistically oriented her ballad and boogie-woogie material to artists such as Albert Ammons, Pete Johnson and Meade Lux Lewis. "Swingin' the Boogie," which she recorded for Jules Bihari's R&B label Modern Records, became a regional hit; her best-known song eventually became "Out of the Blue," which made the R&B Top Ten.
Jules Bihari gave her the stage name Hadda Brooks.

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