Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. This week, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman remembers an artist who worked with comedians, snakes, and some of the biggest names in jazz.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Friday on KXT and Saturday on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you. And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KXT’s The Paul Slavens Show, heard Sunday night’s at 8.
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Beulah Wallace, nicknamed “Sippie,” was born in Houston on Nov. 1, 1898. As a child, she sang gospel in the Shilo Baptist Church, where her father was a deacon. Later she joined some of the traveling music shows that passed though Houston, working as a chorus girl, a comedic actor, and even a snake charmer’s assistant. Wallace went on to perform with some of the most popular jazz and blues artists of the 20th Century, including Louis Armstrong, King Oliver and Victoria Spivey. Wallace also had several hit records, including “Woman Be Wise.” Sippie Wallace later recorded and performed with several younger artists, including Bonnie Raitt, and was nominated for a Grammy.