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Mabel Scott was born on April 30, 1915, in Richmond, VA, and raised in New York City. She developed her singing voice in the Metropolitan Baptist Church and led her own all-girl gospel group, the Song Cycles. It was around 1932 that 17-year-old Mabel Scott began singing at Harlem's Cotton Club with Cab Calloway's Orchestra and the dancing Nicholas Brothers. After moving to Cleveland in 1936, she and pianist Bob Mosley went to England, where she made her first recordings in 1938 for the Parlophone label. Scott toured Europe soon afterwards and would return repeatedly from 1940 through 1942. The Second World War forced her to relocate, and she chose to settle in Los Angeles. This placed her at the epicenter of the postwar West Coast jazz and R&B scene.
Following a short spell with Jimmie Lunceford's Orchestra, Scott established herself by 1943 as a mainstay at Central Avenue's Club Alabam, along with master of ceremonies Wynonie Harris. She sang with a group led by Lorenzo Flennoy during the mid-'40s and soon began recording again, first for the Hub label and then in 1947 for Excelsior. In 1948 she toured and scored Billboard R&B hits with "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus" and "Elevator Boogie." Scott married her pianist, Charles Brown, in 1949 — this union would only last about three years. She made a series of excellent sides for King Records in 1950, for Coral in 1951, with both Brunswick and Coral in 1952, and four sides for the Parrot label — with King Kolax blowing trumpet — in 1953. Touring Australia in 1955, she made her final recordings there for Festival Records backed by Les Welch's jazz band. Disillusioned with the music business and unhappy after her second marriage, Mabel Scott now returned to her gospel roots, singing only in church for the rest of her long life. She passed away in Los Angeles on July 19, 2000.