Smith Ballew

This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll recall a singer, actor and bandleader who carried jazz to Hollywood.

Smith Ballew was born Sikes Ballew in Palestine, Texas on January 21, 1902. He attended the University of Texas, where he organized a jazz group known as Jimmy’s Joys. Ballew worked with Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey and several other notable jazz musicians, before starting his own successful band, The Smith Ballew Orchestra, in 1929.

Smith Ballew went on to record for more than thirty record labels including Columbia, Victor and Decca. He also lived in Hollywood for twenty years, where he played music and appeared in two dozen movies.

Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll celebrate the first woman to work with the King of Western Swing.

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