IONA WADE: Complete Recordings
Very few is known about her life and whereabouts and there are only one or two mentions of her in blues and jazz magazines. According to Blues/ A regional experience (by Eric Le Blanc and Bob Eagle), she was born in march 1918 in Indianapolis from James Wade and Allie Ruth Kennedy. She started a singing career with pianist and bandleader Isaac "Snookum" Russell around 1942. But her first records were made as the featured vocalist of Sherman Williams' band. Sherman, a saxophonist and bandleader from Houston has a fairly large discography recorded in Nashville, Houston and Los Angeles in which Iona delivers silky and smooth vocals on a good number of blues and ballads. The newspapers of the time are praising her vocal talents, her stage control and her sex-appeal:
" With Sherman Williams will go of course the lovely and sweet singer Iona Wade who has been the rage at the Peacock Club for over five months" (Sid Thompson in "The Houston Informer", February 1947)
Iona and Sherman are constantly playing in and around Houston's best clubs, blacks or whites (!) during the late 1940's. With Sherman Williams, Iona toured nationally back to back with Johnny Moore's Three Blazes in 1947 and opened for blues shouter and hit maker Wynonie Harris.
She seemed to have left Williams somewhere during the early 1949 and we found her again in the studios in Los Angeles, this time fronting Bill Gaither's Madcaps band for a very good recording session. The next year, she is back in Houston (under the name Iona Harlin?), waxing some rare 45s with saxophonist Eric Von Schlitz's Big Six band who feature ace pianist Jay Mc Shann. After that, her appearances are getting scarce apart a title in Los Angeles with Joe Lutcher and an odd appearance with saxophonist James Moody's band in 1954.
We have tried to gather almost all Iona's recordings but three titles from the super rare Eric Von Schlitz's sessions are still missing. A .mp3 copy would be greatly appreciated.
A lot of thanks to those who made possible this article and compilation: bluesjumpers33, Jose Yrrabera, and the websites Dead Wax and particularly Wired for Sound, always on top for providing infos from old Texas' recordings.
Iona Wade, vcl; Sherman Williams, a-sax; Charles Gillum, tpt; William Jones, t-sax; Skippy Brooks, pno; James Brown, bs; Alvin Woods, dms. Nashville, Tn. may 1947
01. Keep your man at home
02. Take a ride
Iona Wade, vcl; Sherman Williams, a-sax; Charles Gillum, tpt; Williams Jones, t-sax; Skippy Brooks, pno; William Roberts, bs; Diz Small, dms. Los Angeles, Ca. december 1948
03. So easy
04. It's you in my heart
06. Reminiscence with the blues
Iona Wade, vcl; Sherman Williams, a-sax; Charles Gillum, tpt; Williams Jones, t-sax; Skippy Brooks, pno; William Roberts, bs; Diz Small, dms. Houston, Tx. january 1949
07. Why don't you tell me so?
08. No one in my heart
Iona Wade, vcl; Bill Gaither, t-sax; His Madcaps, band. Los Angeles, Ca. 16 august 1949
09. Lonesome baby blues
10. That's the corkescrew
11. Bouncing with Bill
Iona Wade, vcl; Jay Mc Shann, pno; Eric Von Schlitz, t-sax; His Big Six, band. Houston, Tx. april 1950
12. Come on in, drink some gin
13. Take my number baby
Iona Wade, vcl; Jay Mc Shann, pno; Eric Von Schlitz, t-sax; His Big Six, band. Houston, Tx. mai 1950
Gonna make a change
Keep your man at home
Iona Wade, vcl; Joe Lutcher, a-sax; band. Huntington Park, Ca. 1952
14. Why not tell me now
Iona Wade, vcl; James Moody, a-sax/t-sax; Dave Burns, tpt; William Shepherd, tb; Pee Wee Moore, b-sax; Jimmy Boyd, pno; John Latham, bs; Joe Harris, dms. Hackensack, Ca. 12 april 1954
15. That man o'mine
16. Over the rainbow
17. Jack Raggs
18. Mambo with Moody
Iona Wade, vcl; Wilbert Jiggs Hemsley, t-sax; His Orchestra, band. Los Angeles, Ca. 1962
19. I love you baby
20. No more dogging