Sunlit is the only word to describe the life and career of Joya Sherrill as these further pictures from a cache of copyrighted Life photographs illustrate.
Whether it was returning to school after her first tour of duty with the Ellington band in the early forties, stopping the show with her rendition of Katusha on Benny Goodman’s mission to Moscow in 1962 or her numerous returns to the Ellington fold to participate in the album My People or to appear at The Rainbow Grill, hers is a rich legacy.
Anyone about my age now but who grew up in New York, may well remember the children’s shows she presented, Time for Joya and Fun School. In the era, I suppose of Sesame Street, Joya’s programmes were syndicated locally. Typically, tapes of these programmes apparently no longer exist but on this page, there are links through to the only surviving sound recordings of the shows and they comprise a guest appearance by Duke Ellington. The recordings are priceless.
Here is a brief reminiscence of some of her finest early work - from standards she created during her first stay with the Ellington band such as I'm Beginning To See The Light and I Didn't Know About You delivered with malted milk smoothness to fine, rare work with Rex Stewart at Capitol and her appearance at Carnegie Hall in January 1946, singing The Blues from Black, Brown and Beige.