By Kara Briggs
Mildred Bailey's crystal-clear voice rang out from bandstands and radios everywhere in the '30s and '40s. Known as "Mrs. Swing," she topped the charts three times between 1938 and 1940. Among her many hits were "Rocking Chair," "Says My Heart" and "Darn that Dream," the latter recorded with Benny Goodman and His Orchestra.
Bailey died of a heart attack in 1951, and until recently, her music was largely forgotten.
Now Julia Keefe, a young jazz singer from the Nez Perce Tribe, is among those reviving Bailey's repertoire. On April 11, Keefe debuted a program titled "Thoroughly Modern: Mildred Bailey Songs" in a performance at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. The Rasmuson Theater was standing-room-only when Keefe and the Jerrol Pennerman Octet took the stage.