TERESA BREWER FAN CLUB
584 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06511
A few years ago, Marianne Lovaas and I met Teresa for lunch near her home in Manhattan. As in past get-togethers, Teresa talked about her career and gave us insights about her feelings on a variety of subjects. At this particular luncheon, Marianne and I brought along a tape recorder and, with Teresa's permission, taped much of the conversation that ensued that day. The cassette of that conversation recently surfaced and I thought that you might enjoy hearing Teresa's opinions and thoughts on such diverse topics as traveling as a youngster with the Major Bowes units, getting her big break in show business, covering rhythm and blues songs in the 1950s, and recording with many jazz legends. With the Newsletter, I am enclosing a transcription of our warm, convivial conversation with Teresa on that cold, wintry day - sort of a retrospective of Teresa's extraordinary career, in her own words. [ Go to "A Conversation with Teresa..." ]
Chris Cotton created the Teresa Brewer Center on the web in 1996, mainly because his father, Delbert, was one of Teresa's most ardent fans. In fact, Delbert was one of the founding members of the then-new Teresa Brewer Fan Club when it was launched in 1975. In January of this year, Delbert had what can only be termed a freak fatal accident while trimming a tree at home. Because of Delbert's love for and devotion to Teresa and her wonderful singing, Chris is honoring his dad's memory by continuing to maintain the Teresa Brewer Center, keeping all the fans updated - via the Internet - with the latest information, both personal and professional, about Teresa, and alerting the fans to new products that have come on the market that will be of great interest to the fan club members. We send our heartfelt sympathy at this sad time to Chris and his brother, Todd, and to Delbert's devoted wife, Darlene.
For those of you who have DVD players, you'll be pleased to know about a couple of recent items that feature Teresa:
Hank Williams: The Man and His Music was a 1980 television special with an all-star musical guest list: Johnny Cash, Kris Kristoffersen, Brenda Lee, Hank Williams, Jr., Waylon Jennings, and our own Teresa. On the show, each performer sang one or two songs, and Teresa brought the house down twice: First, with her rousing rendition of Hank Williams' most famous song, "Your Cheatin' Heart" (Hank Williams, Jr., told her that her version of the song was the best he'd ever heard,) and then with her yodeling in "Honky Tonkin'." At the end of the show, Teresa joined the other performers with the very spiritual "I Saw the Light." A must for the collection of every Teresa Brewer fan!
As this Newsletter was being prepared for mailing, there came word of another DVD on which Teresa is prominently featured, Sock Hop Rarities, Volume One. In the ads promoting it, Teresa is listed as performing four of her biggest hits: "Music! Music! Music!," "Till I Waltz Again with You," "Ricochet," and "A Sweet Old Fashioned Girl." Since we have not as yet previewed the DVD, we don't know if these songs are performed separately or if they are part of a medley of hits. We don't even know the source of the material but presume that it's the old Ed Sullivan TV show from the 1950s.
If the above two items are not in your local stores, ordering information for them can be found on the Teresa Brewer Center website, whose address is www.teresafans.org.
There is a new compilation CD out that contains a total of 29 of Teresa's biggest hits. It's on the Metronome label and is entitled Teresa Brewer: The Singles. Although the CD does not contain all of the 42 songs by Teresa that made the Billboard charts, it has most of the hits that you'd expect in a Teresa Brewer anthology, plus one or two surprises. For example, included for the very first time in CD format is "Pickle Up a Doodle," which squeaked its way onto the Billboard charts at #99... and didn't go any higher! Still, it's a catchy, infectious song with Irish folksong roots and is a favorite among the Teresa Brewer fans. According to Billboard magazine, Teresa was one of only two female vocalists (Patti Page was the other) to make the list of the top 15 vocalists for the period 1955-59. The songs included on this disc reflect that immense popularity.
If your local store doesn't have Teresa Brewer: The Singles, and is unable to get it for you, again you can go to the website for ordering information.
Years ago, I wrote a comprehensive biographical sketch of Teresa that was featured in a national music publication. Chris took much of the information that it contained, spiffed it up a bit, and incorporated it into the website. While surfing the web recently on a lazy afternoon, I came upon a Teresa Brewer bio that was attributed to someone named Steve Walker. As I read it, I found the words and style to be very, very familiar. It turned out that, for the most part, it's the biography of Teresa that we use in the Teresa Brewer Center! (To his credit, at the end of his piece Mr. Walker does, in fact, acknowledge the website by asserting that "all the information, with minimal editing, came from the very informative [Teresa Brewer] web page.")
With the Newsletter I am enclosing a copy of this biographical profile because it encapsulates completely Teresa's very extraordinary and successful career.
One more thing about the Teresa Brewer Center: Chris updates it monthly, and with each of the updates comes additional special features. For the month of April for example, he has introduced the "Song of the Month." Each month the TBC will provide the audio of one of Teresa's songs that is not included in the permanent audio library on the website. As it is now, by clicking on to the site, you can listen to all of Teresa's hits. Now, with this new feature, you will have even more of a choice of her fine music for your listening pleasure. The initial "Song of the Month" for April is the beautiful hit from Barnum, "The Colors of My Life," which can be found on Teresa's album, Come Follow the Band.
In the previous section, I mentioned that the Teresa Brewer Center is updated monthly. If you want to be alerted to each update, go to the site and request to be put on the notification list. While there, check out all the wonderful features it contains. There have been close to 53,000 visits to the site, which is a testament to Teresa's extraordinary career and enduring popularity - and Chris' ingenious presentation of it.
For some very interesting reading, go to your bookstore and pick up a copy of Songbird: The Fabulous Female Vocalists by Donald f. Reuter (Universe Publishing.) It profiles over 150 "girl singers" and it is the definitive documentation of the most important women in popular music. Based on "a combination of sales, airplay and length of stay on the charts," the author has listed the 25 top female vocalists for the period 1940-present. And right there alongside the likes of Mariah Carey, Patti Page, Madonna, Olivia Newton-John, Celine Dion, Rosemary Clooney and Diana Ross is... one Teresa Brewer! Songbird: The Fabulous Female Vocalists is a tribute, indeed, to all those lovely ladies who, through their singing, make the world a more harmonious place to live in - and to listen to.
There is another book that will interest you. While transcribing the interview that is enclosed with this Newsletter, I remembered that Teresa didn't know at the time exactly how many gold records her songs have earned. Over the years, they have gotten warped, lost or, perhaps, were even stolen. We now have a definitive count: The Book of Golden Discs (Barrie & Jenkins Press) by Joseph Murrells, which is an exhaustive reference publication, confirms that Teresa had six million-sellers - "Music! Music! Music!," "Till I Waltz Again With You," "Ricochet," "Let Me Go, Lover!," "A Tear Fell" and "A Sweet Old Fashioned Girl." Whether or not a hit of Teresa's qualified for a gold record, all of us fans agree that every song that she sang was golden to our ears.
PBS, in its series of musical specials spotlighting music in America from earlier eras, is going to present My Music - The 1950s. It will be a program dedicated to the pop music of that era, and most of the performers participating in it will be the singers who ruled the pop charts prior to the advent of rock 'n' roll. Some of the PBS stations, during pledge breaks, have in fact mentioned My Music in order to drum up interest in, and pledges for, their stations, and the fan club has already been getting inquiries into whether Teresa will be appearing. The answer is a simple and disappointing "no." The producers of the special have been persistent and relentless in their pursuit of Teresa. To entice her, they even assured her that, if after the taping she wasn't completely pleased with the way she looked or sounded, they would not show her segment. (Teresa was told that this was the first time PBS had ever made such an offer to an artist - that's how much they wanted her to appear.) Teresa would have loved to have appeared on the show but, unfortunately, the taping of it was at a time when she simply could not make it. It would have been wonderful to see Teresa on the show, of course, but maybe we'll get the chance to have her previous appearances on PBS's Moments to Remember (1980) and Jukebox Saturday Night (1990) on video and DVD soon, as has been promised.
On a personal note: There's going to be another great-grandchild in Teresa's ever-growing family. Later on in the year, Teresa's grandson Denis and his wife Tierney are expecting their third child, a baby boy who will be joining big sisters Ryleigh and Shaylan. Denis' brother Ian and his wife Kelly have a young son, Aidan, so this generation is really sprouting. Perhaps one of them will be musically inclined and will carry on in the footsteps of their famous great-grandmother. One can only hope!
I'll end this Newsletter now so that you can get to the enclosures that accompany it without delay. Make a cup of coffee or, better still, pour yourself a glass of merlot or some other fine spirits, and then pull up an easy chair and eavesdrop in on our conversation with Teresa. [ Go to "A Conversation with Teresa..." ]