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The Delta Rhythm Boys

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The Delta Rhythm Boys were an American vocal group active for over 50 years from 1934 to 1987.

The group was first formed at Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma, in 1934 by Elmaurice Miller, Traverse Crawford, Essie Joseph Adkins, and Otha Lee Gaines. In 1936, they moved to Dillard University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where they worked under Frederick Hall under the names, New Orleans Quintet and Frederick Hall Quintet. Clinton Holland (soon replaced by Carl Jones) and Kelsey Pharr (replaced by Hugh Bryant in 1962) replaced Miller and Adkins. Rene DeKnight became their pianist.

The group appeared often in the 1940s on radio programs such as Amos and Andy and The Joan Davis Show, and performed on Broadway in the shows, Sing Out the News and Hot Mikado. They also appeared extensively in film, including in You’ll Never Get Rich with Bing Crosby and Rita Hayworth. Aside from their own recordings, they served as background vocalists for Charlie Barnet, Mildred Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald, and Ruth Brown.
One of their most successful releases was a vocal version of the Glenn Miller instrumental hit “I Dreamt I Dwelt in Harlem” from 1941 with lyrics by Buddy Feyne and music by Glenn Miller Orchestra arranger and composer Jerry Gray, Ben Smith, and Leonard Ware.
Also memorable is their 1950s version of the spiritual song “Dem Bones”, a hit record for them, and which they performed on television extensively, and is currently revived with at least two postings on You Tube.

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