Singer, Hal (actually, Harold; aka Cornbread)

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Singer, Hal (actually, Harold; aka Cornbread)

Singer, Hal (actually, Harold; aka Cornbread), jazz tenor saxophonist, leader; b. Tulsa, Okia., Oct. 8, 1919. His father was a guitarist, and Hal took up violin at age eight; he later played saxophone and clarinet in his high school band. He went to Hampton Inst., Va., in 1937 (where he later obtained degree in agriculture), but also did summer vacation gigs in Oklahoma City with trumpeter James Simpson and in a band led by Charlie Christian’s brother Edward. Singer became a professional musician in summer 1938, working first with Ernie Fields’s Band; during the following year, he worked with Lloyd Hunter’s Serenaders and with Nat Towles. In late 1939 Singer joined the Tommy Douglas Band; in 1941 he became a member of Jay McShann’s Band, but left to settle in N.Y. in 1942. He did extensive gigging, then worked with many leaders, including Hot Lips Page (1943), Jay McShann, Roy Eldridge Big Band (1944), Earl Bostic, Don Byas (1945), Henry ’Red’ Allen Sextet (summer 1946), Sid Catlett (1947), Lucky Millinder (early 1948), and six months with Duke Ellington (1948). Through the success of his own best-selling single “Cornbread,” he formed his own touring band 1949–58. From 1958–65, he led his own bands in N.Y. clubs, and then moved to Paris. He worked regularly in Europe through the early 1980s, including tours and club work.


Rent Party (1948); Blue Stompin’ (1959); Royal Blue (1990).

—John Chilton , Who’s Who of Jazz/Lewis Porter

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Singer, Hal (actually, Harold; aka Cornbread)

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