What is a 30's Uke Girl up to these days??

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I have been writing music and performing professionally for 30 years.  Since moving to Florida, I've added many new originals that embrace the Florida scenery, history and lifestyle.  This has been met with great enthusiasm from crowds all over the state.  I currently have two CDs out but am now working on one that is exclusively Ukulele.  

I plan to use this site to give back, meaning, I will be posting info on where to go for festivals, sites that are all about Ukulele, song sites, and fun photos and pics of local and national events.  Enjoy and most of all Have Fun!  

Remember this, Never Stop Dreaming, But, Now Is The Time To Take Your Dreams To The Next Level, And Start Living Your Dreams!!!! quote by Norine Mungo :)

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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Annette Hanshaw 'The Personality Girl'

Catherine Annette Hanshaw
Annette Hanshaw, known as, "The Personality Girl," was born Catherine Annette Hanshaw in Manhattan at her parents residence on October 18th, 1901.  (She originally was reported to have a birth date of 1910, which would have made her 16 when she first recorded and 25 when she retired, but in fact, she was 25 at her first recording and 35 when she retired.)

Her family was well to do, she came from privilege, but her personality was such that everyone loved her as if she was the girl next door. In her early life  Annette 'Demo'd' sheet music at her family's Hanshaw Music Store in Mount Kisco, New York.  She also performed for guests at some of the hotels that her father owned. 

She even appeared on local radio several times while down here in Florida on family vacations.  People reported that she had, "The voice of an angel!" 

 Her father, who was musically inclined and loved show business,  dropped everything at one point,and ran off to join the circus!  That in itself is a story, aye?   He did return though, and life went back to normal.  That as well as  musical influences  Aunt, Nellie McCoy along with cousin, Bob 'Uke' Hanshaw  who were well known vaudeville   performers propelled Annette into a recording career.   Still, Annette actually didn't plan to enter the world of music.  She wanted to be a designer, and after high school, she entered  the National Academy of Design for one year.   

During all this time, between school and later, design school, she had  rave reviews at each singing appearance around town.  That and those early radio appearances that her father had set up,   led to her first recording, “Black Bottom” and “Six feet of Papa” in New York on September 12th and September 18th of 1926.  Though she never wanted to be a recording star, and shunned public performances, it is recorded that between her disc recordings and her radio appearances (which were recorded back then), she accumulated over 780 recordings of her voice. 

Annette Hanshaw Recording on CBS
Annette preferred to sing alone, and in all those recordings, she only sang with someone else twice.  That was on 'Say It Isn't So' and 'Happy Days Are Here Again.'   She also recorded with the best musicians in the Jazz and Swing Band industry at the time.   The names of
Miff Mole, Phil Napoleon, Eddie Lang, Vic Berton, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, Tommy Dorsey, Red Nichols, Joe Venuti, Adrian Rollini and Jack Teagarden were just a few of those big name stars that backed up her records.  Wow! Yet, if you were to ask someone on the street today, "Who was Annette Hanshaw"  you'd probably get a blank stare.  Though famous in the circles of the mid 20's to 30's, because she kept PUBLIC appearances down, we now have to discover her for ourselves. 

At the height of her career in radio and 'phonograph' recording, they say she was in direct competition with Ruth Etting, of which I did an earlier biography. Where Ruth did enter into 
the film industry, Annette took a much quieter
 path, and preferred dogs, cooking and homemaking to fame and glory.  This shy young woman never sought fame and fortune, though it came to her easily.  She was offered roles in film and tours, which would have made her even more famous than she was at the time.  She turned those offers down save for one short film.  That was called, "Captain Henry's Radio Show"  and it depicted real life for radio stars.  

She grew weary of the recording industry, probably from the pressure put upon her to advance into film and touring, thus retiring in the late 30's.  She married Pathe' Records executive, Herman 'Wally' Rose. Herman was in the audience at one of her performances in 1926, and recognized her full potential.  He was a music executive at Pathe Records.  They worked together to create some of the most quintessential jazz recordings of the "Flapper" era.  

 Even while still recording, her family life was much more important to her than fame.  She prized herself on being a good housewife and companion to Herman.  Critiques to this day admonish her for this, stating that she was one of the voices of the ages, and that she belonged to the public.  I wonder at a woman of this talent, who was able to have both sides of the coin.  Her love for Herman was epic they say.   He passed away in 1954.   

Eventually Annette remarried in the 70's, to Mr Herb Kurtin, who  was with her to the end, but official biographers always refer back to Herman as her true love.  Though she retired in the mid thirties, she was astonished when there was a resurgence of interest in her recordings in the 70's.  There have been  quite a few newer records created from her old recordings.  

Annette recorded under many pseudonyms for different radio show personas that she took on through the years. Those names were, Gay Ellis, for sentimental songs, and Dot Dare, and Patsy Young, for her Helen Kane (Betty Boop) impersonations. She also recorded under the names Ethel Bingham, Marion Lee, Janet Shaw, and Lelia Sandford. Many people would mistakenly think they were listening to Helen Kane or Betty Boop when they would hear Annette on the radio.
 That makes me think of the line in the song, "Video Killed The Radio Star", because, when you think about it, back when you didn't see the person, they could sing a plethora of material, changing personas to fit the style.  Today, it is almost impossible for a non cookie cutter looking person to make it, given the media we have today, let alone changing personality and style. 

Since investigating these early radio stars, I've come across  multiple recording names consistently.  All told, Annette Hanshaw recorded about 250 sides in her short lived ten year career.  Ten years in itself is amazing when you compare it to recording stars today, and to add to that,  leaving behind a huge portfolio of songs this size is just amazing.  Of course, as earlier stated, if you include the radio appearance recordings as well, you know have a documented 780.  Holy Cow!   Some of the songs she was known for are listed on a site called Red Hot Jazz.  Here is a link to that site.

Annette passed away on March 13, 1985, succumbing to cancer.  She is laid to rest in Hartsdale, New York.  I think she had a great life.  The best of both worlds they say.  She was famous for a line that she said at the end of many of her recordings, which they kept and did not cut out.  She would say, "That's All!"
Indeed, Annette, I hope I brought some of your music to the attention of the public, and as we move on to your peers, I fondly say, "That's All!"

Oh, so, as to the UKULELE, lol, which this blog is about, check out this recording of Annette Hanshaw performing "I  Love A Ukulele".  Enjoy!

There are many more you tube videos of Annette Hanshaw recordings.  Many of which are the Ukulele songs that we perform today.  I love the slow vamp style of these recordings and it influences my take on the style I am going for in my own performances.  Play along if you can.  Sometimes though, the tuning is just a little off because of the speed of the recordings of those times.  I actually down tuned slightly on one song to play along with the recording.  LOL.  But then of course, you must retune afterwards.


  1. Great post! I love Annette and only discovered her music about a year ago. I've nearly worn out all my CDs since. She very nearly shares a birthday with me (mine is 10/17) as well as a love of dogs and design. I think we would've been swell pals. :) Thanks so much!