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"Tiny" (Ernestine) Davis
(August 5, 1907 - January 30, 1994) U.S.A.

Davis Tiny

Musician, jazz trumpeter and vocalist


Little is known of Davis' early life and thus her career is where most get acquainted with her. In 1937, the Piney Woods Country Life School of Mississippi founded the 16-piece band known as "The International Sweethearts of Rhythm". The purpose of the band was to financially support the school, which educated the poor and orphaned black children in that state. But in 1941, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm severed their ties with the Piney Woods Country Life School, moved to Virginia and recruited seasoned professionals to join their band.

Davis TinyThe International Sweethearts of Rhythm pushed the fevered audience to new levels as Edna Williams, Willie Mae Wong, and Ruby Lucas upped the ante on the song "Swing Shift." The Sweethearts were unique in that it was both all females as well as a racially integrated group. Latina, Asian, Caucasian, Black, Indian and Puerto Rican women came together and created music that more than held its own in the Swing Era: the musicians and the music they played was admired by their peers, including the likes of Count Basie and Louis Armstrong.

The International Sweethearts of Rhythm played big band jazz that cooks. The Jubilee Sessions, originally recorded for radio broadcasts aimed toward America's black soldiers serving during 1943 to 1946, provide a rare opportunity to hear these women play. The Sweethearts didn't get as much exposure to mainstream audiences in the South as the all-white, male big bands of their day because of their racial make-up and the atmosphere of violent racism in that region. When they did tour the Deep South, the three or four white women in the group would paint their faces dark so the police would not remove them from the bandstand and arrest them.

While their exposure to white audiences was somewhat limited, they were extremely popular with black audiences. The All-girl band singer Tiny Davis and her partner since 1948, Ruby Lucas, owned Tiny and Ruby's Gay Spot in Chicago during the 1950s. In 1988, a short film entitled Tiny & Ruby: Hell Divin' Women was made as a tribute to Davis, and her lesbian partner of 40 years, drummer Ruby Lucas.


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