Brewer, Teresa (originally Theresa Breuer)
Brewer, Teresa (originally Theresa Breuer)
Brewer, Teresa (originally Theresa Breuer), vocalist who spanned jazz, country, and MOR popin a 60-year career; b. Toledo, Ohio, May 7, 1931. Breuer’s father worked as a glass inspector for the Libby-Owens Co., and no one else in her family was particularly musical. However, Theresa was a precocious performer. Her mother got her onto the radio by the time she was two years old, singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on WSPD’s Uncle August’s Kiddie Show. Before she was 10, she became a regular on “Major Bowes AmateurHour/7 earning about $100 a week, the most of anyone in her touring unit. When sheturned 12, however, her parents decided she should stay closer to home and concentrate on her school work. She continued performing on local radio, eventually getting her own show billing her as “Toledo’s Miss Talent.”
In 1948, Breuer and three other local entertainers won a local competition and were flown out to N.Y. to compete in a national contest. Winning that event earned Breuer an acetate recorder and a week’s engagement at the Latin Quarter. She changed her name to Brewer thinkingit would appear more theatrical on the Latin Quarter Marquee. In the wake of many more talent competition wins, she earned a regular role at the Latin Quarter and appearances at other local clubs, including the Sawdust Trail. At that club she was signed by an agent, who introduced Brewer to the record companies.
One of the early American signings on London records, Brewer put out three singles that went nowhere. Next, she returned to the studio with The Dixieland All Stars to record “Copenhagen/’ with a throwaway B-side. Disc jockeys picked up on the infectious B-side, a tunecalled “Music, Music, Music.” It spent four weeks on the top of the charts, selling over a million copies in 1950.
This started a period Brewer refers to as her “Ootsy-poo period.” Her next hit, also with the Dixieland All Stars, was the #17 “Choo’n Gum.” London also saddled her with tunes like “Molasses, Molasses” and other music she felt should have been children’s records. Her final hit for London, however, was “Longing for You.” A variation on Oskar Strauss’s “Dream Waltz,” she brought it to #23 on the charts. She also married and had a daughter.
At the ripe old age of 20, Brewer moved on to Coral records. Here she worked with producer Bob Theile. Her first hit introduced in 1952 was “Gonna Get Along without You Now,” a tune she took to #25 but that would chart higher for later singers. Her duet with Don Cornell, “You’ll Never Get Away Again,” went to #17. Her third hit of 1952, “Till I Waltz Again with You,” became one of the biggest hits of the year, topping the charts for seven weeks and going gold. She was named the country’s most popular female singer in a poll taken by Paramount pictures, who cast her in Those Redheads from Seattle.
Brewer received good reviews for her acting debut, and Paramount offered her a seven-year contract. However, she turned it down, not wanting to uproot her family (now three children) from their home in suburban New Rochelle. Instead, she worked on television, still based largelyin NM during the 1950s. She cos-tarred with Mel Torme ondine network series “Summertime USA,” and continued to record. 1953’s “Dancin’ with Someone (Longin’ for You)” hit #17 and “Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall” went to #23. She recorded her next tune, “Richochet,” while suffering from a cold, but it didn’t stop it from spending two weeks at #2 and going gold. This was followed by a song from the film Those Redheads from Seattle, “Baby, Baby, Baby,” which rose to #12.
Brewer’s next single, 1954’s “Bell Bottom Blues” backed with “Our Heart Breaking Waltz,” became one of those rare double A-sided singles, with the former rising to #17 and the latter hitting #23. For her next record she started dabbling in country. The tune “Jilted” hit #6. She followed this with 1955’s “Let Me Go Lover,” the theme to a popular TV show, which also hit #6. She headlinedsupper clubs around the country, rising to the ranks of headliner at her old haunt, the Latin Quarter, where she broke house records.
As the 1950s progressed and rock and roll took over, Brewer started doing MOR covers of hits by rock and R&B artists. In 1955, she had a hit with “Pledging My Love” (#17, equal to Johnny Aces’s original). In 1956 she took Ivory Joe Hunter’s “ATear Fell” to #5 (Hunter got to #15 R&B) and Fats Domino’s “Bo Weevil” to #17 (Domino only got to #35). In 1957 she took Hunter’s “Empty Arms” to #13 (Hunter’s version didn’t chart pop) and Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me” to #8 (Cooke had topped the charts with it). She also recorded tunes that were in the style of her older hits, like “A Sweet Old Fashioned Girl,” which she took to #7 in 1956. While Brewer last hit the Top 40 in 1960, with “Anymore” (#31), she contined to record and appear, usually on television so she could be at home. Through the 1960s, she recorded occasionally, played live occasionally and spent most of her time with her family.
In the 1970s, she was reunited with Thiele. He convinced her to perform for his new Flying Dutchman label and got her excited about recording—and other things. She wound up divorcing her husband of over 20 years to marry Thiele. While she didn’t have any hits, her albums for Flying Dutchman included sessions with the Count Basie Orch., Stéphane Grappelli, and the final recording Duke Ellington ever did. She cut a rock record that had an electricversion of “Music, Music, Music.” As her family grew older, she started performinglive more frequently, interrupted only by Theile’s passing in 1996. She continues to headline casinos and clubs into her 60s, not having lost a note since she was two.
Midnight Cafe (1982); Good Ship Lollipop (1983); Best of Teresa Brewer (1989); 16 Most Requested Songs (1991); Music! Music! Music! The Best (1995); Good News (1996).