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Lil Greenwood

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Lil Greenwood might be most well known as a vocalist with Duke Ellington's band for a few years starting in the late '50s. She is featured on Ellington's album My People, but her career as a recording artist in her own right was highlighted by more R&B-oriented sides she did in the early '50s for Modern and Federal. Though she didn't have hits, Greenwood was one of many California-based singers in these years recording in a style intersecting jazz with blues and a bit of gospel, forming a dominant part of post-war R&B before that gave way to doo wop and rock & roll. Greenwood had a strong voice, but didn't get the material that could establish her as a star artist, though some bigger R&B names are heard as accompanists on those sessions, like Camille Howard, Little Willie Littlefield, Thurston Harris, and members of the Johnny Otis Band. After her stint in Ellington's band ended, Greenwood recorded sporadically for other labels like NRC, Reprise, and Tangerine, and made some appearance on TV series, including The Tonight Show, Good Times, and The Jeffersons. A compilation of her '50s R&B sides, Walking & Singing the Blues, came out on Ace in 2002. ~ Richie Unterberger

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18 November 1923 in Prichard, AL

Years Active: