Best remembered for her 1949 smash "Powder Your Face with Sunshine," pop songbird Evelyn Knight was born and raised in Washington, D.C., beginning her music career on local radio. Upon signing to Decca in 1945, she scored her first Top Ten hit with her debut single, "Dance with a Dolly (With a Hole in Her Stocking)." Her follow-up, "Chickery Chick," proved another chart blockbuster, but from there Knight's career went into free fall, with singles like "My Fickle Eye" and "Passé" barely registering at radio and retail. In late 1948 Knight entered the studio with backing vocalists the Stardusters to cover Paula Watson's hit "A Little Bird Told Me" -- her rendition spent much of the spring of 1949 atop the pop charts, selling in excess of two million copies.
Watson's label, Supreme Records, nevertheless filed suit with Decca, claiming Knight's arrangement was lifted wholesale from the original -- a judge dismissed the suit, but the singer's follow-up, "Buttons and Bows," was nevertheless a sharp contrast with Dinah Shore's signature version, with an elegance and tranquility absent from Shore's rendition. Knight's biggest hit, "Powder Your Face with Sunshine," was her second number one and spent some five months on the charts -- she closed out 1949 with the two-sided hit "It's Too Late Now"/"You're So Understanding," both of which nearly cracked the Top 20. Knight entered 1950 with a cover of Mindy Carson's "Candy and Cake," teaming with the Ray Charles Singers for the follow-up, "All Dressed Up to Smile." She made her last chart appearance a year later with "My Heart Cries for You," a duet with country star Red Foley. Outside of a handful of appearances on the Ed Sullivan-hosted television variety showcase Toast of the Town, Knight gradually receded from view by the middle of the decade. ~ Jason Ankeny