|Lillian Green or
Lillie May Johnson
December 22, 1919[|
Mississippi, United States
April 14, 1954|
Chicago, Illinois, United States
|Big Bill Broonzy|
Lillian Green (December 22, 1919, (some sources give 1901 or 1910)[nb 1] - April 14, 1954) professionally better known as Lil Green, was an American blues singer and songwriter. She was among the leading female rhythm and blues singers of the 1940s, with a sensual soprano voice, she possessed with an ability to bring power to ordinary material and compose superior songs of her own, with gospel singer R.H. Harris, lauding her beautiful voice, and her interpretation of religious songs
Originally named Lillian Green or Lillie May Johnson, she was born in Mississippi. After the early deaths of her parents, she begain performing in her teens and having like many African-American singer's honed her craft in the church performing gospel, she would sing in Mississippi jukes, before heading to Chicago, Illinois in 1929 where she would make all of her recordings.
Green was noted for superb timing and a distinctively sinuous voice. She was reportedly 18 when she recorded her first session for the 35-cent Bluebird subsidiary of RCA. In the 1930s she and Big Bill Broonzy had a nightclub act together. Her two biggest hits were her own composition "Romance in the Dark" (1940), which was later covered by many artists, such as Dinah Washington and Nina Simone (in 1967) (Billie Holiday recorded a different song with the same title), and Green's 1941 version of Kansas Joe McCoy's minor-key blues- and jazz-influenced song "Why Don't You Do Right?", which was covered by Peggy Lee in 1942 and many others since. As well as performing in Chicago nightclubs, Green toured with Tiny Bradshaw and other bands but never broke away from the black theatre circuit.
Green, by 1949 had changed directions with the foresight to become a jazz vocalist, and tryed to emulate the Jazz style of Billie Holiday, she had signed with Atlantic Records in 1951, but she was already in poor health. She died of pneumonia in Chicago in 1954 and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, in Gary, Indiana.