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Sippie Wallace

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Sippie Wallace (born as Beulah Thomas, November 1, 1898 – November 1, 1986) was an American singer-songwriter. Her early career in local tent shows gained her the billing “The Texas Nightingale”. Between 1923 and 1927, she recorded over 40 songs for Okeh Records, many written by herself or her brothers, George and Hersal Thomas. Her accompanists included Louis Armstrong, Johnny Dodds, Sidney Bechet, King Oliver, and Clarence Williams. Among the top female blues vocalists of her era, Wallace ranked with Ma Rainey, Ida Cox, Alberta Hunter, and Bessie Smith.

In the 1930s, she left show business to become a church organist, singer, and choir director in Detroit, and performed secular music only sporadically until the 1960s, when she resumed her career. Wallace was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1982, and was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 1993.

Wallace was born in Houston, Texas, one of 13 children. In her youth Wallace sang and played the piano in Shiloh Baptist Church, where her father was a deacon, but in the evenings the children took to sneaking out to tent shows. By her mid-teens, they were playing in those tent shows. By performing in the various Texas shows, she built a solid following as a spirited blues singer.
Wallace came from a musical family: her brother George W. Thomas became a notable pianist, bandleader, composer, and music publisher; her other brother Hersal Thomas was a pianist and composer; and her niece (George’s daughter) Hociel Thomas was a pianist and composer.

In 1915 Wallace moved to New Orleans, Louisiana with brother Hersal; two years later she married Matt Wallace, and changed her name.

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