** A Tradition Dating Back to the Big Band Era **

THE MODERNAIRES STORY

“The Second Generation”

THE MODERNAIRES, now celebrating over 80 years in show business, had their beginnings as a trio in Buffalo, New York, in 1935. Their first “gig” was with the Ted Fio Rito Orchestra. The boys, Hal Dickinson, Chuck Goldstein, and Bill Conway were called Don Juan-Two-and-Three. Soon after that they joined the Ozzie Nelson Band and became known as The Three Wizards of Ozzie. Next came a stint with Fred Waring, where they recruited Ralph Brewster, and THE MODERNAIRES were finally a reality.

Paul Whiteman beckoned, and in 1937 they joined his famous organiza-tion. THE MODS were featured on the Maestro’s weekly radio show, and recorded many of the popular songs of that era, some with Jack Teagarden.

 

Julie Dickinson

Their biggest break came in 1939 when the great Glenn Miller “borrowed” them to record a tune called “It’s Make Believe Ballroom Time,” a sequel to the original “Make Believe Ballroom,” which they had recorded earlier for Martin Block’s Big Band Show of the same name, on WNEW in New York. Glenn Miller was sold, and soon after, THE MODERNAIRES became an important part of the most popular big band of all time. When Paula Kelly (Mrs. Hal Dickinson at that time), joined the Miller band and recorded with THE MODS, it was the beginning of a group that is still popular today.

Listen to the Glenn Miller recordings of “Juke Box Saturday Night,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “Serenade in Blue,” “Kalamazoo,” “Moonlight Cocktail,” and countless other hits featuring THE MODS. It becomes quite clear that THE MODERNAIRES were way ahead of their time in both harmony and style. They continue to perform many of those timeless Miller hits, as well as lending their own unique touch to many of today’s better contemporary tunes with happy results. Since joining Glenn Miller in 1939, THE MODERNAIRES have traveled the world many times over.

Frances Langfor with Glenn Miller
WWII -- Glenn Miller Orchestra Frances Langford and The Modernaires

There have been many changes in personnel over the years, and many changes in music. However, THE MODERNAIRES have returned to their roots, sometimes leading their own big band these days in the concept of “Music In The Miller Mood.”

JULIE DICKINSON, who is the youngest of the three daughters of The Modernaires’ Paula Kelly and Hal Dickinson, has taken over as the lead singer in the group. Julie made her singing debut at he age of 3 with her two sisters, Paula and Martha, on “The Bob Crosby Show.” She worked with her mother as a duo and made many commercials. Grounded in singing with her church choir and school music experiences, she was the “Singer of the Year” at her high school in 1965. Julie was the lead singer for the three “Kelly Sisters,” who recorded for the Coed label, made their television debut on “The Dean Martin Show,” and performed on the 60’s TV shows, “Hullabaloo” and “Ninth Street West.” The Kelly Sisters have performed in Las Vegas with Liberace and Johnny Sea. They .made an album with their parents and performed the famous “Mod Squad” love theme. Julie sang extensively at various venues with the son of Fran Scott, another Modernaire, as the duo, “John and Julie.” Julie has now stepped into the lead part in The Modernaires.

Original Mods
Hal Dickinson - John Drake - Fran Scott
Paula Kelly
Ralph Brewster

JOE CROYLE has been featured with Sally Struthers in her nightclub act, performing with her on the Jerry Lewis Telethon, Merv Griffin and Dinah Shore shows. He then went on to sing with Mama Cass Elliott, appearing at the London Paladium among other venues. Joe was a featured singer and dancer in Ann-Margaret’s act, and from there was selected to become a part of Peter Marshall’s group, “Chapter Five,” where he remained for eight years, appearing in major U.S. cities and on television, including a command performance for President Carter at the White House. Joe’s voice can be heard on countless radio and television jingles. He has also performed in many industrial shows and emceed for many national beauty pageants.

Original Kelly Sisters
Original Kelly Sisters
Martha -- Paula -- Judy

JIM STEPHENS …………. has been involved in music since he was a teenager. A Los Angeles native, he appeared on the music scene as a member of the world famous “Safaris.” In 1960 he was the lead singer on their hit single, “Image of a Girl,” which sold over a million records, and is in the “Rock And Roll Hall of Fame.” Jim was also a member of the popular 40’s group, “The Merry Macs,” in the early 60’s. He recently appeared on “Doo Wop-Love Songs,” a TV special on PBS as a featured artist singing his famous “Image Of A Girl.” Jim has performed with the “Late Nite Big Band” for the past few years in Southern California and loves that “Big Band sound” and great vocal harmonies. We are thrilled to have Jim…. with his wonderful group singing abilities and talent. His high energy and love of our music only enhances and brings a great balance and blend to our group.

GINGER BERGLUND………….. is both very talented, and lovely. She’s one of those rare people you need in a group, sings in tune….and has a great sense of humor. Ginger has carried on the legacy of Anita O’Day and June Christy with the Stan Kenton Alumni Band. A native of Pasadena, California, whe recorded for the Tonight Show host, Steve Allen, with pianist, Paul Smith, sung duets with Kenny Rankin, worked with Flora Purim (jazz vocalist.) Her first professional gig was for Gov. Ronald Reagan’s Gubernatorial Ball at the Century Plaza Hotel in L.A. when she was just an ingénue. Her husband is Scott Whitfield, a trombonist extraordinaire and renowned arranger.

SCOTT WHITFIELD .................. our newest member and musical director, (trombonist, composer, arranger, and vocalist) is internationally recognized for his work with many contemporary big bands, including Toshiko Akiyoshi, Johnny Mandel, Bob Florence, and the Clare Fischer Big Band, as well as his own Scott Whitfield Jazz Orchestra. Whitfield’s discography includes 10 recordings as leader and numerous recordings with other artists.

In 1993, Whitfield became a member of the Nat Adderley Sextet. Their engagements at New York’s Sweet Basil led to fruitful associations with Nnenna Freelon, Frank Wess, Lionel Hampton, Wayne Andre, and many others. Whitfield served on the jazz faculty at Rutgers University from 1998 to 2002.

Whitfield’s latest creative venture pairs him with vocalist/lyricist Ginger Berglund, celebrating the art of the duet in an act known simply as “Ginger & Scott.” The two have garnered rave reviews for their CD “Dreamsville,” and have also been compared with Jackie Cain and Roy Kral.

Scott Whitfield is a Getzen artist and clinician.

THE MODERNAIRES with Paula Kelly, Jr. were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in Sharon, Pennsylvania, in 1999.

The group’s CD, “The Modernaires Now!” has received great reaction from Big Band disc Jockeys nation-wide.

 

A Special Note of Thanks to: ALAN COPELAND

Alan Copland

Grammy award winning singer, composer, arranger, Alan Copeland has been a friend and mentor to the Mods for over fifty nine years. He has literally single-handedly re-written "The Modernaires" repertoire while performaing as a Modernaire at least four times since 1948. In addition, Alan has written and arranged for Count Basie, David Rose, Les Brown, Sarah Vaughn, Dick Haymes, Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme, Peter Marshall, among others. We love you Alan. You've always been there for us. Thank you just doesn't seem to say enough......... P.K. and all the Mods.

 

MEMORIAL………….

 

Glenn Miller Rehersal

Paula, Jr.

 

When Paula retired in 1978, the natural replacement was PAULA KELLY, JR., who had sung with THE MODS from 1966 through 1971. She had previously sung with her two sisters, Julie and Martha, in a trio called “The Kelly Sisters,” and made several appearances on the Bob Crosby and Dean Martin television shows. Paula, Jr. passed away in Los Angeles in April, 2012……..quite unexpectedly. It would have been 40 years for Paula singing lead in November, 2012……..she almost caught up with her Dad’s 40 years as a Modernaire! Paula, Jr. is missed by all of those who knew and loved her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill TracyWe would like to pay tribute to two of our members who have recently passed. Bill Tracy, our baritone, on November 20th 2005 succumbed to complications of bypass surgery. He was a member of the group for 20 years, a loyal friend, a great singer and entertainer.

 

 

 

MarthaMartha Elizabeth Dickinson Martz, big sister to Paula and Julie, passed from complications of congestive heart failure on March 22nd 2006. Martha was an active Modernaire for ten years. We will miss her laugh and her optimistic nature. Bill often said “She was our joy”.

They will always be remembered with so much love by their dedication, contribution, and through our music.

 

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