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Humes learned trumpet from an early age and play piano . As a child she sang in the school band from Sunday school, containing, inter alia, Dicky Wells and Jonah Jones.In 1927 she sang during some of the last recordings of blues guitarist Sylvester Weaver. Weaver Humes brought in contact with Okeh Records, for which she at the age of 15, in St. Louis , a first recording was "Do What You Did Last Night". She went to New York, where they only years singer was in the Dance Orchestra of Vernon Andrade, who performed in the Renaissance Ballroom. Also she took there plates on, with James p. Johnson and Harry James's band. Performing with James was not because it was not common for ' black ' singers in a ' blank ' Orchestra were singing. Around 1938, she participated in the Orchestra of Count Basie, Billie Holidayin the place of where they would work until 1941. After this, she was a freelancer. In 1945, she had a hit with the novelty song "Ooo Baba Leba", a rhythm & bluesnumber that they themselves had written. In 1947 she made some jazz record with Buck Clayton and Teddy Wilson. After a new hit, "Million Dollar Secret" (1950), touched her career slowly in the slop.They toured with Red Norvo and made in the late 1950s, early 1960s some plates for Contemporary Records. Also she performed in Europe and Australia.
In 1967 she pulled back to 1977 for her father to take care. She worked a small two years in an ammunition factory. In 1973 took out jazz writer Stanley Dance her about to perform at the Newport Jazz Festival in a Count Basie-reunion, a successful action which her music career got a second life. They toured in Europe (including Milt Buckner and Jay McShann) and went back to make plates. So she took in 1975 for two plates on Columbia Records , produced by John Hammond.
Helen Humes died from cancer.
- Knockin' Myself Out: 1927-1951, Jazz Legends, 2005
- 1927-1945, Jazz Classics, 1996
- 1945-1947, Jazz Classics, 1999
- 1948-1950, Jazz Classics, 2004
- He May Be Your Man (recordings 1937 and 1945), Bluebird, 2002
- In Her Own Words: Complete 1946-1949 Recordings, Ocium, 2010
- Tain't nobody's BiznessIf I Do/Songs I Like to Sing! (Contemporary recordings 1960), Essential Jazz classics, 2012
- Swingin' With Humes (Humes ' third Contemporary album, 1961), Original Jazz Classics, 2002
- On the Sunny Side of the Street (Montreux Jazz Festival 1974), Black Lion, 1993
- Definitive Black & Blue Sessions: Sneakin' Around (Paris 1974 recordings), Black and Blue, 2010
- Did I Do (recordings 1976), Contemporary, 2001
- Helen Humes And The Muse All stars (recordings 1979), Muse, 1993
with Count Basie:
with Lester Young:
- Complete Aladdin Recordings, Blue Note, 1995
with Don Byas:
- Midnight at Minton's (1941), M630 Records, 1999
with Meade Lux Lewis:
- Alternate Takes Live Performaces Soundies, Document Records
with Lonnie Johnson:
- Complete Recorded Works, vol. 1 (1925-1926), 2 (1926-1927) and 4 (1928-1929), Document Records
with Sylvester Weaver:
- Complete Recorded Works, vol. 2 (1927), Document Records
- Sanford Josephson. The Happy Singer: Helen Humes, from Jazz Notes: Interviews across the Generations