Little Known Black History Fact: Jimmy Rushing

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  • There was a gentleman from Oklahoma City that fans of swing, jazz and blues would come to know as “Mister Five by Five” and his name was Jimmy Rushing.

    A child of musicians, Rushing was practically born on the stage with his mother, who was a singer, and his father, a horn blowing piano player who frequently booked performances at the local brothels.

    "Mister Five by Five" was best known for his work with the Count Basie orchestra. His sound was unique as he used a “shouting” vocal style during his performances.

    Rushing’s talent was discovered in the early 1920’s while he toured the west coast, landing gigs with the infamous Jelly Roll Morton. He would later share the stage with Page’s Blue Devils and the Bennie Moten band in 1929.

    Rushing’s 13 years of performing with the groups made him a leader of the Kansas City Jump blues tradition. Count Basie said that Rushing “never had an equal” when it came to the blues.

    The legacy Rushing left behind in songs like “Sent for You Yesterday” and “Boogie Woogie” serve as favored soulful works among blues and jazz lovers for generations.
     

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