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Charles Brown

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Charles Brown (September 13, 1922 – January 21, 1999), born in Texas City, Texas was an American blues singer and pianist whose soft-toned, slow-paced blues-club style influenced the development of blues performance during the 1940s and 1950s. He had several hit recordings, including “Driftin’ Blues” and “Merry Christmas Baby”.

In the late 1940s a rising demand for blues was driven by an increasing white teenage audience in the South which quickly spread north and west. Blues shouters got the attention, but also greatly influential was what writer Charles Keil dubbs “the postwar Texas clean-up movement in blues” led by stylists such as T-Bone Walker, Amos Milburn and Charles Brown. Their singing was lighter, more relaxed and they worked with bands and combos that had saxophone sections and used arrangements.

As a child Brown demonstrated his love of music and took classical piano lessons. Early on, Brown moved out to Los Angeles, where the great influx of blacks created an integrated nightclub scene in which black performers tended to minimize the rougher blues elements of their style. The blues club style of a light rhythm bass and right-hand tinkling of the piano and smooth vocals became popular, epitomized by the jazz piano of Nat King Cole. When Cole left Los Angeles to perform nationally, his place was taken by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers, featuring Charles Brown’s gentle piano and vocals.

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