Saturday, February 22, 2014

Calvin "Hound Dog" Ruffin, Billy Stewart, the Michael Graham Crackers

Calvin "Hound Dog" Ruffin And the Michael Graham Crackers
CP- 2010  Tell It Like Tee I Tis (Calvin C. Ruffin)

Billy Stewart And the Michael Graham Crackers
CP-2011  I Want a Sweet Little Girl  (Michael A. Graham)

Mag Music record no. 103

(BALE 103 in dead wax)

 address label of label owner

"2 nice little-known '59 D.C. R&B tracks" currently on ebay HERE.   Or rather unknown, I would say,  There is no mention of this record anywhere on the internet. 
 This record was perhaps intended to be issued on Bale Records, a tiny Washington label owned by Bea Tibbitts (Betsy B. Tibbs).  It showcases two artists probably managed at the time by Michael Graham, artists who had already recorded several singles (on Chess/Argo and Okeh for Billy Stewart,  on Josie (as Frank Motley band vocalist) and Golden Crest for Calvin Ruffin).

A native of Savannah, Ga., Michael Angelo Graham (picture on left is from 1946) started as an entertainer and was" nationally known in theatrical circles" as "Georgia's Glamour Boy".  He came to the nation's capital in the late 1940s, working in night clubs and also touring with his Washingtonians and then with his Graham Crackers.   Both groups featured blues and scat singer Nudie Williams who recorded for Wheeler Records, a New York label, in the early fifties.
Michael Graham worked with various singers and doowop groups and helped launch the careers of Van Allen McCoy, Marvin Gaye, the Clovers, Johnny Hartman, Don Covay, and Billy Stewart.  

Master of ceremonies at the old Howard Theater, he also promoted a number of musicals and a variety of shows in Washington (Graham Crackers and Oldies But Goodies, a TV program that featured The Clovers, The Jewels, and Sonny Till and The Orioles).   
Graham joined The New Observer, Washington D.C.'s oldest Black-owned community newspapers in 1956, worked his way up from a reporter to editor-in-chief. 
He died in 1985, aged 72.

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