Ella Mae Morse


Ella Mae Morse (September 12, 1924 – October 16, 1999[1]) was an American singer of popular music whose 1940s and 1950s recordings mixing jazz, blues, and country styles influenced the development of rock and roll. Her 1942 recording of "Cow-Cow Boogie" with Freddie Slack and His Orchestra gave Capitol Records its first gold record. In 1943, her single "Get On Board, Little Chillun", also with Slack, charted in what would soon become the R&B charts, making her one of the first white singers to do so. Morse stopped recording in 1957 but continued to perform and tour into the 1990s. In 1960 she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Morse was born in Mansfield, Texas. She was hired by Jimmy Dorsey when she was 14 years old.[1] In 1942, at the age of 17, she joined Freddie Slack's band, with whom in the same year she recorded "Cow-Cow Boogie (Cuma-Ti-Yi-Yi-Ay)", the first gold record released by Capitol Records.[1][3] "Mr. Five by Five" was also recorded by Morse with Slack,[4] and became a hit record in 1942 (Capitol 115). She also originated the wartime hit "Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet",[5] which was later popularized by Nancy Walker in the 1944 film Broadway Rhythm.

In 1943, Morse began to record solo. She reached #1 in the R&B chart with "Shoo-Shoo Baby"[6] in December for two weeks. In the same year she performed "Cow Cow Boogie" in the film Reveille with Beverly and co-starred in Universal's South of Dixie and The Ghost Catchers with Olsen and Johnson and How Do You Dooo?, a vehicle for radio's "Mad Russian", Bert Gordon. She sang in a wide variety of styles, and she had hits on both the U.S. pop and rhythm and blues charts. However, she never received the popularity of a major star.[1]

The song "Love Me or Leave Me" as recorded by Morse was released by Capitol Records as catalog number 1922,[7] with the flip side "Blacksmith Blues", which became her biggest hit.

Morse had six children from four marriages,[18] several grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and an estranged sister named Flo Handy who was also a singer.

In 1999 Morse died of respiratory failure in Bullhead City, Arizona, at the age of 75.