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Victoria Spivey

On 15/10/1906: Victoria Spivey was born. She was born in Houston, Texas and her full birth name was Victoria Regina Spivey. Her father Grant was a part-time musician and a railroad flagman. Her mother was Addie was a nurse. Her two sisters both came professional singers, Addie "Sweet Peas" Spivey and Elton Island Spivey Harris.
Spivey first played professionally in the family string band led by her father. When he died, Victoria played on her own at parties from the age of seven.
In 1918, she was hired to accompany films at the Lincoln Theater in Dallas. When she was a teenager she worked in local bars, nightclubs and flats. She would mostly perform alone but sometimes she would be accompanied by singer-guitarists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson.
In 1926, she moved to St Louis, Missouri. There she would be signed by Okeh Records. Later the same year she released her first recording with them "Black Snake Blues". The recording sold well and she continued to record for Okeh in New York until 1929.
In 1929 Spivey moved to the Victor label. Also that year, film director King Vidor cast her to play Missy Rose in his first sound film "Hallelujah".
Between 1931 and 1937 she started recording for Vocalion Records and Decca Records, whilst living in New York. During the period she would be accompanied by various musicians including King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Lonnie Johnson and Red Allen.
In 1938 she featured in the hit musical "Hellzapoppin".
In 1951, Spivey retired from show business. She played the pipe organ and led a church choir.
In 1961 she returned to secular music when she appeared on Lonnie Johnson's album "Idle Hours" for the Prestige Bluesville label. Also that year Spivey launched her own label Spivey Records with jazz/blues historian Len Kunstadt. The label would record such artists as Sippie Wallace, Lucille Hegamin, Otis Rush, Otis Spann, Willie Dixon, Roosevelt Sykes, Big Joe Turner, Buddy Tate, Hannah Sylvester, Luther Johnson, Brenda Bell, Washboard Doc, Bill Dicey, Robert Ross, Sugar Blue, Paul Oscher, Danny Russo, and Larry Johnson.
During the 1960s the folk music revival gave her further opportunities. She recorded again for Prestige Bluesville when she joined Alberta Hunter and Lucille Hegamin on the album "Songs We Taught Your Mother".
In 1962, Spivey and Big Joe Williams recorded for Spivey Records with harmonica and backup vocals from Bob Dylan. The recordings were released on "Three Kings and the Queen" and "Kings and the Queen Volume Two".
In 1963, Spivey appeared on the European tour of the American Folk Blues Festival.
In 1964, Spivey recorded with Easy Riders Jazz Band, led by trombonist Big Bill Bissonnette.
On 03/10/1976 Spivey died from an internal haemorrhage in New York.

The Music History Calendar is written by the Blues Rock artist Marshland Pete
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