The Boswell Sisters inauspiciously launched their recording career in New Orleans, their hometown, on March 22, 1925, but their first release, I’m Gonna Cry and Nights When I’m Lonely didn’t shake any rafters. Early local appearances featured Connie, the eldest, on cello, Helvetia ("Vet") on violin, and Martha at the piano, but the city’s jazz environment made Connie and Vet switch to saxophone and banjo, respectively. At first, the singing was almost incidental, but it became their ticket to national attention five years later when they moved to New York and became a fixture on radio shows. The Boswell Sisters were notable for their tight harmony as well as their unique ability to modulate pitch and give familiar songs a new melodic twist. They were the cutting edge that inspired future groups, including The Andrews Sisters, who began their own career by emulating them, even down to their Southern accent.
The exuberant sisters recorded a string of hits in the 1930s, sometimes teaming up with fellow vocalists, such as Bing Crosby and The Mills Brothers. Instrumental accompaniments are by some of the day’s most popular musicians and bands, including The Dorsey Brothers, Don Redman, Red Nichols, and Benny Goodman. Considering their popularity and impact, the sisters had a relatively brief run, disbanding in 1936 when Martha and Vel married outside of the music industry and decided to give priority to family life. Connie, however, continued and enjoyed a successful solo career.
This boxed set contains the entire Boswell Sisters output of commercially released recordings—a remarkable set of performances that paved the way for the vocal trio genre. It also includes a bonus DVD featuring more extraordinary performances.