Song:She's Funny that Way
Album:Seems Like Old Times
Thelma Carpenter is probably best known for her performance of He's The Wizard in the 1977 film The Wiz. But Thelma was singing with Coleman Hawkins and Count Basie when she was a teen. So she had jazz chops. Fortunately, the British reissue label Sepia Recordings has released Thelma's best recordings on CD including this 1940 classic She's Funny That Way. She was born Jan. 15, 1922 in Brooklyn, NY. As a child, she had her own radio show on WNYC in New York. Her big break came when she won amateur night at the Apollo and this led to legendary Columbia Records John Hammond discovering her in 1939. She debuted with Teddy Wilson's orchestra. But that was short lived and Hammond placed her in Coleman Hawkins new band. Hawkins had just returned from Europe and signed with RCA's Bluebird label. It looks like She's Funny That Way was Thelma's only recording with Hawkins. Musicians are Tommy Lindsay and Joe Guy on trumpet, Early Hardy on trombone, Jackie Fields and Eustis Moore on alto sax, Gene Rodgers on piano, William Oscar Smith on bass and Arthur Herbert on drums. She's Funny That Way is a jazz standard written by Charles N. Daniels and Richard A. Whiting. Gene Austin had a hit with it in 1929. In 1943, Thelma replaced Helen Humes as singer with Count Basie. After two years, she replaced Dinah Shore on Eddie Cantor's radio show. She went on to perform with Duke Ellington in the 50s. Thelma also appeared on Broadway as Pearl Bailey's understudy in Hello, Dolly and in Bob Fosse's Pippin. And she appeared in The Wiz. She rarely recorded as Thelma Carpenter but she charted with the Elvis Presley answer song Yes, I'm Lonesome Tonight in 1961. Thelma continued to make appearances until her death on May 14, 1997 at age 75. Here's a video of She's Funny That Way by Thelma Carpenter with Coleman Hawkins and his Orchestra.