Eva Taylor

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Eva Taylor
Background information
Birth nameIrene Joy Gibbons
Also known asIrene Gibbons
Born(1895-01-22)January 22, 1895
St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America
DiedOctober 31, 1977(1977-10-31) (aged 82)
Mineola, New York, United States of America
GenresJazz, Blues
Occupation(s)Singer, actress
Years active1930s-1940s, 1960s-1970s
LabelsBlack Swan, Okeh, Columbia, Edison, Vocalion

Eva Taylor (January 22, 1895 — October 31, 1977) was an American blues singer and stage actress.

Life and career[edit]

Born Irene Joy Gibbons in St. Louis, Missouri, as one of twelve children.[1] On stage from the age of three, Taylor toured New Zealand, Australia and Europe before she was in her teens,[2] she also toured extensively with Josephine Gassman and Her Pickaninnies, a vaudeville act. She settled in New York City by 1920. There she established herself as a performer in Harlem nightspots. Within a year she wed Clarence Williams, a producer (hired by Okeh Records), publisher, and piano player; the newlyweds worked together on radio and recordings. They recorded together through 1930s, their legacy includes numbers made as the group Blue Five in the mid-1920s, which included the jazz clarinetist and saxophonist Sidney Bechet, trumpet virtuoso Louis Armstrong, and such singers as Sippie Wallace and Bessie Smith.[3]

In 1922 Taylor made her first record for the African-American-owned Black Swan Records, which billed her as "The Dixie Nightingale."[4] She recorded dozens of blues, jazz and popular sides for Okeh and Columbia throughout the 1920s and 1930s, she adopted the stage name Eva Taylor, but she also worked under her birth name in Irene Gibbons and her Jazz Band.

She was part of the Charleston Chasers, the name given to a few all-star studio ensembles who recorded between 1925 and 1930. In 1927, Taylor appeared on Broadway in Bottomland, a musical written and produced by her husband, which lasted for twenty-one performances.[5] In 1929 she had her own radio show on NBC's Cavalcade,[6] she then worked for many years on radio station WOR, in New York (guesting on Paul Whiteman's radio show in 1932).[7] Taylor stopped performing during the 1940s, she returned to performing in the mid-1960s, after her husband's death, and toured in Europe.


Taylor died from cancer in 1977 in Mineola, New York, she was interred next to her husband, Clarence Williams, under the name Irene Joy Williams in Saint Charles Cemetery, in Farmingdale, New York.[8]

Their son, Clarence Williams, Jr. (1923–1976) was the father of the actor Clarence Williams III.

Their daughter Joy Williams (1931–1970) was a singer and actress, performing under the stage name Irene Williams.

Selective discography[9][edit]

Year Title Genre Label
1996 Not Just the Blues Jazz, blues Pearl
1996 Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 1 (1922-1923) Jazz, blues Document
1996 Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 2 (1923-1927) Jazz, blues Document
1996 Complete Recorded Works, Vol. 3 (1928-1932) Jazz, blues Document
1997 Edison Laterals 4 Jazz, blues Diamond Cut


  1. ^ Cullen, Frank (2007). Vaudeville Old and New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performances in America. Psychology Press. p. 1093.
  2. ^ Larkin, Colin (1995). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Guinness. p. 4498. ISBN 1-56159-176-9.
  3. ^ Fairweather, Digby (2004). The Rough Guide to Jazz. Rough Guides. p. 864. ISBN 1-84353-256-5.
  4. ^ Bogdanov, Vladimir (2003). All Music Guide to the Blues: The Definitive Guide to the Blues. Backbeat Books, p. 373. ISBN 0-87930-736-6.
  5. ^ Stearns, Marshall Winslow (1999). Jazz Dance: The Story of American Vernacular Dance. Da Capo Press. p. 150. ISBN 0-306-80553-7.
  6. ^ "Special Collections and University Archives - UMD Libraries". Lib.umd.edu. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  7. ^ Chilton, John (1985). Who's Who of Jazz: Storyville to Swing Street. Da Capo Press. p. 326. ISBN 0-306-80243-0.
  8. ^ "Eva Taylor (1895-1977) - Find A Grave Memorial". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
  9. ^ Bogdanov, Vladimir (2003). All Music Guide to The Blues: The Definitive Guide to the Blues (3rd ed.). Backbeat Books. p. 538.

Further reading[edit]

  • Sheldon Harris: Blues Who’s Who: a Biographical Dictionary of Blues Singers (Da Capo Press, 1979, most recent edition 1994
  • A. Napoleon: “The Return of Eva Taylor,” Jazz Journal Volume 21, Issue 1 (1968), page 30.

External links[edit]