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Saturday, July 9, 2022

Got A Date With An Angel - Skinnay Ennis

A Heart Of Stone

Got A Date With An Angel
Skinnay Ennis and His Orchestra
Arrangements by Monte Kelly
Cover Photography by Lester Krauss
MGM Records E3531

From the back cover: Skinnay hails from Dixie – matter of fact, he's the son of a prominent old Southern family. Among his ancestors he boasts Major James Smith, who fought with Light Horse Harry Lee's famous cavalry during the America revolution, and a Dr. Mongleburg, who was personal physician to Napoleon during the French emperor's disastrous campaign in Russia. Like Fred Waring and Horace Heidt, Skinnay started his musical career in his home-town Boy Scout band, tooting a bugle and hammering on the drums in turn. Upon entering the University of North Carolina, he struck up an acquaintance with a fellow-student named Hal Kemp. (Another fellow-student was John Scott Trotter.) As a Delta Sigma Phi brother of Kemp, he roomed with Hal and soon found himself playing drums and trumpet in Hal's original campus band. Skinnay never dreamed he was destined to become one of radio's important and unique song-stylists. And, if Saxie Dowell, comic vocalist with Kemp's band, hadn't fallen down a flight of stairs while the boys were still in college, Skinnay might still be beating the drums. Saxie was tripped by a "playful" fraternity brother, fell down stairs and was rushed to the student infirmary. In desperate need for a vocalist for a scheduled dance that night, Hal called on Skinnay, who had never sung a note in public in his life. Scared stiff when his vocal turn came, Skinnay half-spoke, half sang the lyrics in a husky, whispering tone. This intimate manner of delivery made an immediate hit with the girls and Hal had to keep him on as a regular vocalist. When, college days past, the unique, punctuated Kemp big band style was developed. Skinnay's vocal style became one of the features of the group. The lad left college to cast his lot with the great Kemp Orchestra.

In 1938, after appearing with Hal for twelve years, Skinnay was offered the part in Paramount Pictures' "College Swing." Kemp quickly gave him a release, happy that Skinnay could make good on his own. Other films followed apace – and then Skinnay formed his own band, which rode to fame right beside Kemp, Lombardo, Kyser and Fields. He appeared on the Bob Hope radio show for eight years, filling in the week with engagements at fashionable West Coast hotels. Throughout the war, until 1946, when he was released from service on a medical discharge, Skinnay re-formed a great band that criss-crossed the nation making stellar appearances. Currently based on the West Coast, the band is the favorite of Pacific Collegians. Skinnay can boast that he has played more college dances and parties on the Coast than any other big name band leader. The band give out with a big, big sound – and fronting it is that wonderful, wonderful Ennis singing style: the style that makes this album such a superb listening treat!

From Billboard - September 3, 1957: Ennis' breathless vocal style has worn well. He sounds remarkable on this LP, as he did in this Hal Kemp heyday. Selections in his bouncy, trademarked style with a good terp beat, include "Got A Date With An Angel," "We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye," etc. Spinable wax for nostalgic deejay segs.

Got A Date With An Angel
Deep In A Dream
We Just Couldn't Say Goodbye
I'll Take An Option On You
You're Getting To Be A Habit With Me
The Object Of My Affection
Did You Ever See A Dream Walking?
Dinner For One Please, James
Remember Me
A Heart Of Stone
It's Only A Paper Moon

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