Teresa Brewer (7 May 1931 ??? 17 October 2007) was an American pop singer, incorporating country, jazz, R&B, musicals, and novelty songs. She was one of the most prolific and popular female singers of the 1950s, recording nearly 600 songs. Born Theresa Breuer in Toledo, Ohio, Brewer died of a neuromuscular disease at her home in New Rochelle, N.Y. at the age of 76.
Life and career
Teresa Brewer grew up in Toledo, Ohio, USA. Her father was an inspector of glass for the Libbey Owens Company (now Pilkington Glass); her mother was a housewife. At the age of two, Theresa was taken by her mother to audition for a radio program, "Uncle August's Kiddie Show" on Toledo's WSPD.
She performed for cookies and cupcakes donated by the sponsor. Although she never took singing lessons, she took tap dancing lessons. From age five to twelve, she toured with the "Major Bowes Amateur Hour", then a popular radio show, both singing and dancing. Her aunt Mary traveled with Theresa until 1949, when Theresa married. She was devoted to her aunt, who shared Brewer's home until her death in 1993.
At the age of 12, Theresa was brought back to Toledo, ceasing touring to have a normal school life. She continued to perform on local radio. In January 1948 the 16 years-old Theresa won a local competition and (with three other winners) was sent to New York to appear on a talent show called "Stairway to the Stars", featuring Eddie Dowling. It was about that time that she changed the spelling of her name from Theresa Breuer to Teresa Brewer. She won a number of talent shows and played night clubs in New York (including the famous Latin Quarter).
An agent, Richie Lisella, heard her sing and took her career in hand, and soon she was signed to a contract with London Records. In 1949 she recorded a record called "Copenhagen" with the Dixieland All-Stars. The B side was a song called "Music! Music! Music!" by Stephen Weiss and Bernie Baum. Unexpectedly, it was not the A side but the B side that took off, selling over a million copies, and it became Teresa's signature song.
Another novelty song, "Choo'n Gum", hit the top 20 in 1950, followed by "Molasses, Molasses". Although she preferred to sing ballads, the only one of those that made the charts was "Longing for You" in 1951.
In 1951 she switched labels, going to Coral Records. By this time she was married with a daughter, Kathleen. Since she never learned to read music, she had a demo sent to her to learn the tunes of her songs. Even so, she had a number of hits for Coral, though one of her recordings, "Gonna Get Along Without You Now" (1952) was better known in a 1956 version by Patience and Prudence and was also a hit in 1964 for Skeeter Davis as well as Tracey Dey. Also that year she recorded "You'll Never Get Away" in a duet with Don Cornell, and in 1953 came her best selling hit, "Till I Waltz Again with You".
More 1953 hits were "Dancin' with Someone," "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall", and another gold record, "Ricochet". In later years she followed with "Baby, Baby, Baby", "Bell Bottom Blues", "Our Heartbreaking Waltz" (written by Sidney Prosen, who had written "Till I Waltz Again With You"), and "Skinnie Minnie". During those years she continued to play the big night clubs in New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, and elsewhere.
In the mid-50s, she did a number of covers of rhythm and blues songs like "Pledging My Love", "Tweedle Dee", and "Rock Love". She also covered some country songs like "Jilted", "I Gotta Go Get My Baby", and "Let Me Go, Lover!".
In 1956 she had a two-sided hit with "A Tear Fell" and "Bo Weevil", covers of R&B songs. This was followed by "Sweet Old-Fashioned Girl." Also that year she co-wrote "I Love Mickey", about New York Yankees center fielder Mickey Mantle, who appeared on the record with Brewer. Another big hit in 1956 was Brewer's rendition "Mutual Admiration Society". Some of her songs have a decidedly pre-rock beat to them, especially "Ricochet", "Jilted", and "A Sweet Old Fashioned Girl".
In 1957 she made more covers: of country song "Teardrops in My Heart" and R&B songs "You Send Me" and "Empty Arms". The last chart hit of hers was "Milord" in 1961, an English language version of a song by ??dith Piaf.
In 1962 she switched labels again, to Philips Records, where she recorded many singles and albums over a five year period, including Gold Country in 1966. She subsequently made a few recordings for other companies, but with no more big chart hits. In the 1970s she released a few albums on Flying Dutchman Records owned by her husband, jazz producer Bob Thiele.
She appeared on television as a guest star on The Muppet Show in 1977.
Teresa Brewer remerged as a jazz vocalist on Thiele's Amsterdam label in the 1980s and 1990's recording a number of albums including tribute albums to Bessie Smith, Louis Armstrong, and Irving Berlin. She also recorded with such jazz greats as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Bobby Hackett.
Altogether, she recorded nearly 600 song titles. For her contribution to the recording industry, Teresa Brewer has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1708 Vine Street.
In 2007 Teresa Brewer was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame.
The singer died on , 2007, at her home in New Rochelle, New York, of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (PSP), a rare degenerative brain disease. She was 76.
Biggest recorded hits
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"Baby, Baby, Baby"
"The Banjo's Back in Town"
"Bell Bottom Blues"
"Bye Bye Baby Goodbye"
"Crazy With Love"
"Dancin' With Someone"
"Gonna Get Along Without Ya Now"
"Have You Ever Been Lonely?"
"How Lonely Can One Be"
"The Hula Hoop Song"
"I Gotta Go Get My Baby"
"I Love Mickey"
"I'm Drowning My Sorrows"
"Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall"
"Let Me Go, Lover!"
"Longing for You"
"Music! Music! Music!"
"Mutual Admiration Society"
"No Way Conway"
"The One Rose"
"Our Heartbreaking Waltz"
"Peace of Mind"
"Pickle Up a Doodle"
"Pledging My Love"
"Shoot It Again"
"A Sweet Old Fashioned Girl"
"Teardrops in My Heart"
"A Tear Fell"
"Till I Waltz Again with You"
"You Send Me"
"You'll Never Get Away"
Teresa Brewer Center
Teresa Brewer page on Olde Time Cooking & Nostalgia site
Teresa Brewer page on "Great Song Stylists and Musicians"
Teresa Brewer at Allmusic
Teresa Brewer in the 1960s
Teresa Brewer at Findagrave.com
Teresa Brewer - Condolence book (Hungarian)