Portrait of Joya Sherrill (Podcast #20-006)

Joya Sherrill was a featured vocalist with the Ellington orchestra from 1944 to 1946, but returned periodically in subsequent years. One of Ellington’s best vocalists, she deserves wider recognition. Continue reading

“[Joya] did such a good job on “I’m Beginning to See the Light” that we have been playing it ever since. It is a tribute to her diction and articulation, too, that when I ask them to join in singing it with us, audiences all over the world seem to know the words.”

 – Duke Ellington, Music is my Mistress


Joya Sherrill

[20 August 1924 – 28 June 2010]

Joya metronome

Joya Sherrill and Duke Ellington on the cover of the November 1945 issue of Metronome magazine. (With thanks to David Fletcher)

Joya studio

November 1945 issue of Metronome magazine. (With thanks to David Fletcher)


Audio, but no video, of Duke Ellington’s 30 August 1970 appearance on Joya’s Fun School  (Thanks, Mike!)

The recordings heard on this podcast episode:


Black brown and beige2

Black, Brown & Beige (CD: Bluebird 6641-2-RB)


I’m Beginning to See the Light

(All of a Sudden) My Heart Sings

Kissing Bug

Everything But You

Tell Ya What I’m Gonna Do

The Wonder of You

Capitol Jazz Sessions

Blue Jay (CD: “Classic Capitol Jazz Sessions” Mosaic Records MD12-170)

Recorded 26 January 1945, Los Angeles

Joya Sherrill – vocal; Rex Stewart – cornet; Lawrence Brown – trombone; Al Sears – tenor sax; Harry Carney – baritone sax; Eddie Heywood – piano; Ulysses Livingston – guitar; Jr. Raglin – bass; Keg Purnell – drums.

My People

The Blues (CD: “My People – The Complete Show” Storyville Records 1018430)

Recorded 20 August 1963, Chicago

Joya Sherrill – vocal; Bill Berry, Ziggy Harrell, Nat Woodard, Ray Nance – trumpet; Britt Woodman, Booty Wood, John Sanders – trombone; Russell Procope, Rudy Powell, Harold Ashby, Pete Clark, Bob Freedman – reeds; Billy Strayhorn – piano; Joe Benjamin – bass; Louie Bellson – drums; Juan Amalbert – conga.

joya sings duke

Joya Sherrill Sings Duke (CD: Verve 547 266-2)

Mood Indigo/Kissing Bug

Recorded 12 January 1965, Chicago

Joya Sherrill – vocal; Cootie Williams – trumpet; Johnny Hodges – alto sax; Ernie Harper – piano; John Lamb – bass; Sam Woodyard – drums.

A Flower Is A Lovesome Thing/Day Dream/I’m Beginning to See the Light

Recorded 20 January 1965, New York City

Joya Sherrill – vocal; Ray Nance – violin, cornet; Billy Strayhorn – piano; Joe Benjamin – bass; Shep Shepherd – drums.

— Our closing music —-

0000120517It’s Something You Ought To Know (Paul Gonsalves – “Ellingtonia Moods and Blues,” RCA Victor / RCA63562)

Recorded 29 February 1960, New York City

Paul Gonsalves- tenor sax; Johnny Hodges – alto sax; Ray Nance – cornet; Mitchell “Booty” Wood – trombone; Jimmy Jones – piano; Al Hall – bass; Oliver Jackson – drums.