Dee Parker

aka Dell ParkerDel Parker

Vocalist Dee Parker got her start singing in night clubs under the name Dell Parker, a shortening of her nickname “Adelle.” Singing with Vaughn Monroe’s orchestra from April to August 1944, she was forced to bill herself as Dee Parker after legal threats from showgirl and former band vocalist Dell Parker, who wanted to use the name for her own singing career.[1] After leaving Monroe she worked on Broadway, briefly appearing in the musical Mexican Hayride. She then joined Star and Garter on the road in Chicago.

In June 1943, Parker married Detroit theater orchestra conductor and WXYZ musical director Phil Brestoff in Chicago, and by late 1945 she had settled in Detroit, where she was appearing as a soloist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra under the name Del Parker when hired by Jimmy Dorsey in November.[2] Changing back to the moniker Dee Parker again, she remained with Dorsey for almost two years, impressing critics and often dueting with Bob Carroll. After Dorsey reorganized in summer 1947, Parker remained with the band but left soon after in October and returned home to Detroit.

In 1948, Parker recorded solo on the Mercury label. In late 1950, she gave birth to a son and settled down to sing with her husband’s orchestra. By 1952, she was appearing on Detroit area television station WXYZ. Known as “Auntie Dee,” she hosted six different half-hour shows, which each had different sponsors, as well as her own 25-minute radio program. Over the years she promoted and showcased many up-and-coming local singers.

Notes

  1. Dell Parker had been active as a band singer from 1941 to 1943, briefly singing with both Charlie Barnet and Harry James. ↩︎

  2. Earlier references to Parker spell her first name Dell, while references during her Dorsey period spelled it Del. ↩︎

Sources

  1. “Tied Notes.” Down Beat 15 Jul. 1943: 10.
  2. Smith, Bill. “On the Stand: Vaughn Monroe.” Billboard 8 Apr. 1944: 20.
  3. “Broadway Showlog.” Billboard 14 Oct. 1944: 21.
  4. “Del Parker Is JD Vocalist.” Down Beat 15 Nov. 1945: 2.
  5. “Del Parker Joins J.D. And Becomes Dee Parker.” Billboard 24 Nov. 1945: 17.
  6. “Vaudeville Reviews: Capitol, New York.” Billboard 1 Dec. 1945: 33.
  7. “Strictly Ad Lib.” Down Beat 15 Dec. 1945: 1.
  8. “J.D.'s Booking Agency Hush-Hush.” Billboard 23 Aug. 1947: 40.
  9. “Strictly Ad Lib.” Down Beat 7 May 1947: 5.
  10. “Keeping Track.” Down Beat 18 Jun. 1947: 20.
  11. “On the Stand: Jimmy Dorsey.” Billboard 11 Oct. 1947: 23.
  12. Ronan, Eddie. “On the Sunset Vine.” Down Beat 22 Oct. 1947: 8.
  13. “JD Vocalist Change.” Down Beat 17 Dec. 1947: 3.
  14. “Record Reviews.” Billboard 19 Jun. 1948: 57.
  15. “New Numbers.” Down Beat 20 Oct. 1950: 10.
  16. “Music as Written.” Billboard 21 Jul. 1951: 17.
  17. “Detroit Spots Hold to 1951 Gross Level.” Billboard 16 Aug. 1952: 68.
  18. “Music as Written.” Billboard 1 Aug. 1953: 43.
  19. Brestoff, Richard. “Dee Parker.” Received by Autumn Lansing, 11 Apr. 2023.