THE SUPERSTAR ...the late 1950s
In the mid-1950s, Teresa began to branch out by recording different types of material. Some releases were introduced by rhythm and blues artists - songs like Pledging My Love, Tweedlee Dee and Rock Love. She also covered country songs with success - songs like Jilted and I Gotta Go Get My Baby. Some years after the release of the original country version, Teresa recorded Let Me Go Lover, which was to become another of her biggest hits.

  • TERESA: "LET ME GO LOVER WAS THE THEME SONG FROM A TV SHOW. THE SHOW WAS ON AT EIGHT OR NINE O'CLOCK AT NIGHT AND WE WERE IN THE STUDIO RECORDING THAT SONG AT TWO O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING - JUST HOURS LATER. EVERY A&R MAN CALLED THE TOP ARTIST ON HIS PARTICULAR LABEL AND SAID THEY WERE GOING TO DO THAT SONG. I HAD A RECORD OUT OF IT; PATTI PAGE HAD ONE. THE GIRL WHO SANG IT ON THE TV SHOW, JOAN WEBER, HAD A BIG HIT ON IT. I THINK WE EACH SOLD A MILLION COPIES."

The arrangements and orchestrations of some of Teresa's songs also began to evolve during the mid-1950s. Most of the recording through 1955 had strong components of trumpets, trombones, and saxophones, with Brewer's voice acting as the lead instrument of a brass ensemble. After 1955, her voice would be more and more often complemented with strings added to the brass and with the use of male and full choral voices in the mixes.

By 1956, Teresa had added daughters Susan and Megan to the family -- three children under the age of six. To meet the needs of the family, Teresa cut back further on her personal appearances. Instead, she opted to appear on television, finding that the schedule -- a day spent rehearsing plus the actual air date performance -- meshed well with her lifestyle. At the same time she continued her recording.

By her own estimate, Teresa was spending only six to eight weeks a year away from home. Her professional schedule consisted of 2-3 weeks of television appearances, 3 weeks of club appearances, and a week or two in the recording studio for Coral. When Teresa was on the road for club appearances, she avoided one night performances and preferred longer runs at venues like the Las Vegas showrooms so that her family could travel with her and settle in for a longer stay.

This schedule earned Teresa the reputation of being a mother and wife who moonlighted as a performer rather than the reverse, which seemed to occur more often in show business. During this time, her popularity and prolific catalog of hits helped her reach a remarkable income level - which allowed her the luxury of spending more time with her children.

In 1956, Teresa released A Tear Fell, with Fats Domino's Bo Weevil on the flip side. The two sides vied with one another in a race up the charts. The followup release to the twin smash single was A Sweet Old Fashioned Girl.

  • TERESA ON A TEAR FELL: "I LOVED THAT SONG. IT WAS REALLY TAKEN FROM THE RHYTHM AND BLUES RECORD. AT THAT TIME, THE R&B ARTIST JUST COULDN'T BREAK OUT IN THE POP MUSIC WORLD. SO EVERYBODY, EVERY POP ARTIST, WAS COVERING THE R&B RECORDS. I FELT VERY GUILTY ABOUT IT BECAUSE THEY HAD BETTER RECORDS OUT THAN WE MADE. BUT THE SONGS WERE SO GREAT THAT THE POP ARTISTS DID THEM TOO."

    TERESA ON SWEET OLD FASHIONED GIRL: "HALF OF IT WAS THE OLD POP SOUND, THE OTHER HALF WAS THE NEW ROCK AND ROLL SOUND. IT'S ALMOST A TRANSITION BETWEEN THE TWO STYLES. I'M SURE IT WAS DELIBERATE BECAUSE ROCK AND ROLL WAS JUST COMING IN. THE SONG WAS A CLEVER IDEA, A CUTE LITTLE IDEA. AND AT THE TIME IT SUITED ME JUST FINE. IT'S FUNNY, A LOT OF MY HITS HAD A FAMILIAR MELODY TO THEM. MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC HAD A MIDDLE THAT CAME RIGHT OUT OF LIZST'S SECOND HUNGARIAN RHAPSODY. A MELODIC PASSAGE FROM GERSHWIN'S AN AMERICAN IN PARIS WAS RECURRENT IN CHOO'N GUM. A TEAR FELL SOUNDED LIKE A MODERN VERSION OF CLEMENTINE, AND A SWEET OLD FASHIONED GIRL SOUNDED LIKE A DOZEN OTHER SONGS."

In the summer of 1956, Teresa cowrote I Love Mickey, honoring baseball great Mickey Mantle - and Mantle actually appears with Teresa on the recording. This single is now one of the most collectible of all her recordings. Mutual Admiration Society (backed by Crazy with Love) was another big hit for Brewer in 1956.

Teresa continued to guest-star on many television shows during the late 1950s. She also guest-hosted several of the leading variety shows - including those of Ed Sullivan, Perry Como, and Arthur Godfrey.

Hits for 1957 included a pop version of the country song Teardrops in My Heart and covers of Empty Arms and You Send Me.

  • TERESA: "IN THE LATE '50'S, EARLY '60'S, IF I GOT THROUGH WITH A HIT SONG, IT WAS USUALLY COVERING RHYTHM AND BLUES. I COVERED MANY OF THOSE - IVORY JOE HUNTER, SAM COOKE. THAT'S WHAT THE RECORD COMPANIES WERE DOING AT THE TIME. THEY WERE TAKING THE ARTISTS THEY HAD UNDER CONTRACT AND COVERING A BLACK ARTIST WHO HAD A SEMI-HIT. I DIDN'T REALIZE HOW UNFAIR IT WAS UNTIL MUCH LATER. TWO SONGS I COVERED SUCCESSFULLY AT THIS TIME WERE EMPTY ARMS AND YOU SEND ME"

Toward the later 1950s, record buyers were beginning to recognize the original recordings of songs more and more. The industry began to realize that the cover version of a recording - the version promoted on the cover of a single -- was no longer necessarily the better seller. In Teresa's case, the results were mixed from the middle of the decade. She sold more copies of Ivory Joe Hunter's A Tear Fell and Empty Arms, Fats Domino's Bo Weevil and possibly Johnny Ace's Pledging My Love (both versions reached the same position on the Billboard charts) than the original artists. However, her version of Rock Love, Tweedlee Dee and You Send Me were bigger hits for the original artists - Lula Reed, LaVern Baker, and Sam Cooke, respectively.

Teresa's fourth daughter Michelle was born in 1958, and Teresa was still topping the various popularity polls and was strong on the charts with the infectious Pickle Up a Doodle. In the same year, she saw her version of The Hula Hoop Song leap-frog up the hit parade in competition with the version by Georgia Gibbs.

However, the end of the 1950s also marked the end of the heyday of Teresa Brewer's mega-hit records. After the end of the decade, her songs continued to make the charts, but not as consistently or as successfully. In 1959, The One Rose and Heavenly Lover sold well, but were not the overwhelming hits Teresa had previously produced.

Teresa continued to be in strong demand for personal appearances and television. After appearing on his show nearly 40 times, Teresa was invited by Ed Sullivan to be guest hostess for a special show saluting the US armed forces.

Peace of Mind and renditions of the country hits Anymore and Have You Ever Been Lonely were chartmakers for Teresa in 1960. In 1961, Milord, Teresa's English version of French chanteuse Edith Piaf's best known song, was the last song by Teresa to make the pop charts.


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