Knoxville’s Ida Cox sings the blues

Singer Ida Cox wrote the immortal “Wild Women Don’t Get the Blues,” but her fans have the blues over the lack of attention she has received over the years. She rose to fame in the late 1920s and sang in the famous From Spirituals to Swing concert in Carnegie Hall in 1939. Unlike many of her contemporaries, such as Bessie Smith or Ma Rainey, Ida wrote many of the songs she sang. She moved to Knoxville in 1949 and mostly sang in churches, although she stepped out of retirement in 1961 to record one last album for John Hammond with saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and trumpeter Roy Eldridge. She died in Knoxville in 1967.

Jack Neely of Knoxville’s Metro Pulse has written about her, most recently this week, calling her “the best-known jazz or blues vocalist who ever lived in Knoxville.” Four of her albums are for sale on iTunes, so you can go there and hear this remarkable singer. Here’s some rare footage of her on YouTube.

This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.

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