Valaida Snow Day

June 2, 1904 – May 30, 1956

A tribute to the unique and pioneering female trumpeter-singer

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Trumpeter-singer Valaida Snow was born on June 2, 1900, in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Valaida (whose sisters were named Lavaida and Alvaida) took music lessons from her mother and started playing trumpet in public at the age of 15.

Due to her physical beauty and singing skills, she appeared in shows in the 1920s, including an early version of the Noble Sissle/Eubie Blake musical “The Chocolate Dandies.”

In 1926, Snow performed with Jack Carter’s band in Shanghai. In 1928, she appeared opposite Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines at Chicago’s Sunset Café, and in 1929, she performed in the Soviet Union, the Middle East, and Europe.

Back in the U.S., Snow was part of the Sissle/Blake revue “Rhapsody in Black,” recorded with the Washboard Rhythm Kings, and spent some time-based in Chicago.

She moved to Europe in 1935, where she made a series of exciting swing records as a trumpeter-singer, marking her finest recordings, during 1935-1940.

Foolishly staying in Europe during World War II, Snow was arrested and spent some time in a Danish prison before eventually returning to the U.S.

During her later years, she had a lower profile but made a series of vocal-oriented recordings and continued performing until her early death.

In one of the few film clips featuring her playing the trumpet, Valaida Snow performs “Patience And Fortitude” in 1946 with the Ali Baba Trio.

-Scott Yanow


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