Dolly Mitchell

Born
Ann Mitchell
1923, Philadelphia

Died
mid-70s ?

Kenton
11 September 1942 – April 1944

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I Lost My Sugar in Salt Lake City (arr. Charlie Shirley)
3 November 1943

Shoo Shoo Baby (arr. Charlie Shirley)
3 November 1943

Although there were female vocalists that preceded her on the Kenton band, Dolly Mitchell’s eighteen months place her as the first in a line of singers who were closely associated with the Kenton sound.

Mitchell began her professional singing career at the age of twelve. Her father, a former musician with Paul Whiteman (and on-air “Answer Man”), assisted in obtaining an audition for his daughter, and she became Whiteman’s featured vocalist for a year and a half.

She left Whiteman for Kenton in September 1942, just a few weeks after the first AFM recording ban began. It was to be over a year of traveling before Mitchell would make it into the studio with the Kenton band. She recorded Shoo Shoo Baby and I Lost My Sugar in Salt Lake City for the AFRS “Downbeat” series. But a few days later, when the band made their debut in the studio for Capitol Records, it was her fiancé Red Dorris who had the vocal honors. By the time the band returned to the studio in April of the next year, Mitchell was gone.

It is unfortunate that the bulk of Mitchell’s Kenton time was during a nationwide recording ban. Of her year and a half tenure, the ban was in effect for the first year. There are a few radio air checks that remain, offering a small glimpse into Kenton’s first long-term singer.

After she left Kenton she joined Kay Kyser’s outfit, making several recordings with him.

“Vocalist Dolly Mitchell is a beautiful gal who could get along with even less voice than she has. Did three numbers for fair returns.” —Elliott Grennard, Billboard, 24 October 1942.

“Dolly sang Hip, Hip Hooray. She sang it pretty well. She looked wonderful. She sold marvelously. Her smile, her gestures, her general stage comportment are big time. They made up for her consistent flatting in Nemo's patriotic piece. Then came Mr. Five By Five. Dolly really kicked this one off and the band strode mightily behind her into a fine middle tempo beat. This comely girl should be a big asset for Stan. She should have been heard at least once more in this show.” —Barry Ulanov, Metronome, November 1942.

“Dolly Mitchell, Stan’s very pretty and delightfully engaging young singer, is a distinct asset to the orchestra.” —Will Davidson, Chicago Tribune, 12 December 1942

“Dolly Mitchell, luscious brunet warbler, is the highlight in the vocal corps, swinging out with physical and vocal rhythm. Formerly with Paul Whiteman, her talents find a more fitting niche with this group.” — Sam Honigberg, Billboard, 19 December 1942.

“The vocals of Dolly Mitchell, the first first-rate singer he can claim, help immeasurably too. Miss Mitchell was the first bright spot on A Touch of Texas, on which the rhythm section had a hard time getting together, probably because Kenton's drummer appeared too anxious to play with the brass. But Dolly really gave out, and so did the trumpets, so that the result was indeed quite satisfactory.” —George T. Simon, Metronome, January 1943.

“Dolly Mitchell, sexy brunet with a good blues voice, brightens her inning with Get Me Some Money, Too and Salt Lake City Blues.” —Sam Honigberg, Billboard, 30 January 1943.

“Dolly Mitchell did help Murder, He Says. And how she helped it, too! The lass gets a great beat and she was helped mightily by the excellent drumming in back of her.” —George T. Simon, Metronome, July 1943.

“Dolly Mitchell, attractive brunette, adds to the general decorum with a smart, sophisticated appearance and a rhythmic set of pipes.” —Sam Honigberg, Billboard, 8 May 1943.

Songs

Can't Get Out of This Mood (arr. Charlie Shirley) 1943
Four or Five Times (arr. Charlie Shirley) 1943
Hip, Hip Hooray (arr. Charlie Shirley) 1943
I Lost My Sugar in Salt Lake City (arr. Charlie Shirley) 1943
Mister Five by Five (arr. Charlie Shirley) 1943
Murder, He Says (arr. Charlie Shirley) 1943
Ride On (arr. Charlie Shirley) 1943
She's A Bombshell from Brooklyn (and not from Brazil) (arr. Charlie Shirley) 1943
Shoo Shoo Baby (arr. Charlie Shirley) 1943
Sunday, Monday Or Always (arr. Ken Hanna) 1943
A Touch of Texas (arr. Stan Kenton) 1943
You've Gotta Talk Me Into It Baby (arr. unknown) 1944

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Down Beat, 15 March 1944

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Long Beach Independent, 24 October 1943

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Metronome, October 1942

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Dolly’s father was a famous radio personality.