<%@LANGUAGE="VBSCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> <% board_id = 9090 %> Beryl-Davis-09

September 09

 

 

 

 

Photo (C) Sharon Dawson

Tall, Blonde and Elegant

Beryl Davis

Still Loves To Sing

It was good to learn recently that veteran singer Beryl Davis at 85 still enjoys every opportunity she can to sing on stage.

Although Beryl is suffering from failing eyesight and some short-term memory loss she lives alone and is able to look after herself. Her daughter Melinda Moore who lives close to her mother calls in regularly. She told me "Beryl is well and she still sings and remembers every word of her songs."

I first met Beryl Davis in December of 1999 while attending a special anniversary concert remembering Glenn Miller and his AAF orchestra at the Corn Exchange in Bedford where the late Glenn Miller did many radio broadcast during 1944. Beryl sang with Glenn's Band during those war years on many occasions.

Beryl was born in 1924 in Plymouth Devon, in the south west of England. She is the daughter of late Harry Davis the guitar-playing vocalist and leader of The Oscar Rabin band. Oscar himself preferred to sit in with the sax section rather than out front as MD.
When Beryl was just twelve years old she sang professionally with the band. Apart from singing at an early age she also trained as a dancer and won the all England tap-dancing championships twice.

 

She was appearing then on stage with the Syd Lawrence orchestra directed by Chris Dean, his regular band now augmented with a twenty-piece string section and a French horn.

During the interval of that concert we met up with Beryl who was accompanied by
Elizabeth Wooding; husband of Dave Wooding owner of the wartime airfield at Twinwood, which now houses the Glenn Miller Exhibition in the original Control Tower. The site was originally dedicated to the Glenn Miller Festival but this has now become an annual Music Festival with a wide cross section of musical taste, which includes special tribute concerts to Glenn Millers memory.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beryl was born in 1924 in Plymouth Devon, in the south west of England. She is the daughter of late Harry Davis the guitar-playing vocalist and leader of The Oscar Rabin band. Oscar himself preferred to sit in with the sax section rather than out front as MD.
When Beryl was just twelve years old she sang professionally with the band. Apart from singing at an early age she also trained as a dancer and won the all England tap-dancing championships twice.

In the 1940's she sang with Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli appearing at the Hot Club of France.

In 2003 the Control Tower had been restored and is now a memorial site to the RAF and Glenn Miller's association with the airfield. Beryl was invited to open the restored Control Tower where a Plaque was installed on the wall of the Control Tower
in commemoration of this historical association.
As it happened Beryl, although on the airfield at the time, missed the opening ceremony while rehearsing for the afternoon concert with the Glenn Miller Orchestra (UK).
During the morning Bill Baker arrived to set up his band having just flown in from Holland. Bill, an ardent Glenn Miller fan was delighted when Beryl Davis made an impromptu appearance on stage during their performance.

As she made her way up the steps she was greeted by Bill's Musical director Egbert
Kemner who was dressed in the full uniform of an 8th Air force Major. Beryl looked at him and the looked at the crowd saying, "He's back". Kemner, looking not too unlike Glenn Miller with his officer's hat and rimless glasses. This brought laughter and applause from the crowd.

She had come on stage to sing with the Bill Baker's Band but with no music available for her Beryl turned to the crowd to say that she was just working out what they were going to perform. "That's what happens when you're on a "one night stand".

The stage was in a small converted hanger alongside the re-furbished control Tower on this wartime and historic airfield. Beryl had a close association with the Glenn Miller orchestra during the war years and went on to say, "Well Glenn Miller, I feel like praying when I say that name, it is so special in this setting, it's magic. Every thing that man produced gave us so much love for him, the incredible vibes we are feeling right now, I hope you are sharing that with me. We're going to sing a song that we just picked because the guys knew it, well I don't know if they knew it but the piano player knew it and that's awfully important. This is one of Tommy Dorsey's hits "Sunny Side of the Street." Beryl followed that with "As Time Goes By" from Casablanca.
The crowd rose to their feet applauding and cheering her amazing performance as she
finished the song and came down off the stage to mingle with the audience. That same
afternoon she appeared with the Official Glenn Miller Orchestra UK in the large arena
at the far end of the site.

Bill Baker told me later how thrilled he was to have such a Diva on stage with his band knowing of her close association with Glenn Miller. Bill recently wrote to me saying: -

"When I think of Beryl I have great and proud feelings about her. I asked her if she would sing with my band on that day and she said she would if the boys could play in her key. Not one of my arrangements in our book was in her key. She said that her voice was lower after all these years. Our piano player managed to transposed a few songs for the rhythm section and two horns and we had a great fun in playing along with Beryl Before I left Twinwood the boys in the band brought me a gift of a painting by Keith Hill called "Twinwood Legend" which was of a Norseman Aircraft taking off from Twinwood in 1944 just as Glenn Miller did in such an aircraft never to be seen again.
Beryl signed this painting and now I treasure it and the memory of that wonderful
time on stage with Beryl Davis. Beryl wrote on the back of the painting:-

"For Bill Baker. I love your Band! I want to sing with you! Keep swinging! Love Beryl Davis."

Bill Baker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beryl was invited to America by Bob Hope in 1947 and did several of his radio shows. In 1948 she replaced Doris Day on Frank Sinatra's weekly show 'Your Hit Parade' and stayed for a year. In the late sixties she teamed up with Jane Russell, Della Russell and Connie Haines. Della Russell later being replaced by Rhonda Fleming They toured around the world and in 1968 came to England performing at the Northern Club circuit.

 

Singer Jennie Nemeth had a close association with Beryl over many years and told me that her own singing career started in 1972. She said, "I went to work as a cruise hostess for Princess Italia....our jobs at that time took on many hats. We did all the entertaining as well as all ships activities.
I eventually teamed up with a resident guitar player and singer to form the "Mario and Jeannie" duo. We performed in all our big productions on board, "Tribute to Broadway" "Cole Porter" show, "A Small World" "Fiddler on the Roof" and many, many other productions. We saw the world doing what we loved most...making music.

Harry Davis .....Mario Clema ...Buck Stapleton..Jeannie Nemeth and Beryl Davis

While on board Beryl Davis would come on occasionally as a "Star" entertainer. As the years passed we became very good friends. Beryl was very generous with her musical arrangements and her wardrobe. At any given time she would say. "Jeannie, this would be a good song for you to sing when I'm not here". The most notable being"Sophisticated Lady"....what a beautiful sweet giving person
she is. It was a special moment when she brought her Dad Harry Davis board...of course you probably know he had a very well known orchestra in England.
What a handsome and gracious man.
Beryl and I shared many dreams and secrets. She is a great "shopper" and fun to be with. A great moment was when we did the song "Something Stupid"...in her show.

I spent time with her and Buck Stapleton in their home in Hollywood while the ship was in dry dock in San Pedro. One special occasion when the ship was in dry dock, she had a party inviting Mr. Blackwell, the designer, where we sat around singing and eating.

When I retired from Princess I married a musician, Elmer Nemeth, who was with a well-known Trio "The Tony Austin Trio. We had a beautiful wedding where Beryl sang "Through the Eyes of Love". Not a dry eye in the house!

When Elmer and I left the sea we formed our own quartet, "The Nutones". We have been playing regularly together for 10 years...keeping all the good old music alive here in Sun City Roseville, California. I'm also fortunate enough to sing with a fabulous big band here in Sacramento. Fred Morgan and his 16-piece orchestra He plays all the original arrangements of Glenn Miller, Harry James...and all the greats.
We perform in concert and play for special dance parties. Elmer and I also performed in the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee for many years...doing a little Dixie land with the "K Street Ramblers". Beryl and I speak on the phone often.
She is still singing in any place that's playing music. What a lady...what a friend."
Back in 2003 and after the opening ceremony for the restored Control Tower and during Bill Bakers concert the crowd were thrilled to have a Lancaster bomber and a Spitfire do three fly passes over the Control Tower as Bill Bakers Band played the music of Glenn Miller.

  Back in 2003 and after the opening ceremony for the restored Control Tower and during Bill Bakers concert the crowd were thrilled to have a Lancaster bomber and a Spitfire do three fly passes over the Control Tower as Bill Bakers Band played the music of Glenn Miller.The afternoon brought more thrills when Ray McVay and his Glenn Miller orchestra played a 2hr concert of Miller music. Beryl Davis joined them during the second half once again reminding her audience of her association with Twinwood and Glenn Miller AAF Orchestra. Introduced by Ray she sang "Don't Sit under the Apple Tree," "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square," "I Don't Want To Walk Without You Baby," "It's Been A Long Long Time," "The White Cliffs of Dover" and "I'll Be Seeing You."

 

 

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