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Author , Composer , Writer , Performer :
Nat Shilkret


Song Best Love Rating:

Song Title: Get Happy(1930), Dancing With Tears In My Eyes(1930)

Song Artist: Nat Shilkret

Song Performer: Nat Shilkret

Song Show: Jazz, Musician, Composer, Director, Producer, and Recording Executive

Authors Description: Nat Shilkret is undoubtedly a major part of Victor's early success in the very competitive world of recording in the Jazz Age. He is certainly a hall-of-famer for RCA Victor, as well as in the history of the Jazz Age artists. However, his seemingly indefatigable work ethic in the music business is somehow overlooked by many commentators of the Jazz Age. It may have something to do with the fact that he was often heard and not seen; for most of his career he worked primarily in studios. He was a New Yorker, and his first brushes with greatness were in his youth, when he was pals with a fellow named George Gershwin. Educated at Bethany, he learned clarinet, as well as violin, and in his early years played with the NY Symphony, NY Philharmonic, and even in the pit with the Met Orchestra. He was also associated with the famous composer John Philip Sousa (1854-1932). In 1924, he brought all these credentials with him to RCA Victor and became the director of light music. He directed and arranged nearly all the Jazz Age greats and founded the Victor Salon Orchestra, which was his own project for delivering the sounds of the Jazz Age. Like Paul Whiteman, he had the power of RCA's backing to get the finest musicians for his magnificent studio sessions. Songs like "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes" and "It's A Million To One You're In Love", and over 50 others soared up the charts from 1924 to 1932. This does not even include all the hit songs where the Victor Orchestra backs up Jazz Age singers, like Gene Austin, who was an all-star hit maker in the 1920s. He also did classical direction for Victor and conducted on various recordings. His conducting however, received poor reviews from the classical music critics, unlike his successes with the popular tunes. It was inevitable that Nat Shilkret should lock horns in the late twenties with Paul Whiteman, who had also recorded with Victor for years. Whiteman was not a fan of the Victor Orchestra, because Nat Shilkret was recording a lot of the same songs as Whiteman's boys, often upstaging the 'King of Jazz' with a better cut. Whiteman refused to renew his contract with Victor and signed with Columbia. Columbia, to say the least, was so over-joyed to have Whiteman aboard, that they created a custom label with Whiteman's famous caricature on it. The loss of Whiteman was indeed more than just a scrape on the knee to Victor's executives, with Nat Shilkret partly to blame. Shilkret remained as music director with RCA Victor for only a couple more years, before turning his attention to radio. He did not burn his bridges with his friends at Victor, as Whiteman had however. During the 1930s, Nat Shilkret worked many radio shows, such as the Eveready show, in which he conducted many generic radio bands. In 1935, he moved to Hollywood and found work as music director, doing incidental, as well as some main music for the movies. All the while still doing shows on radio and by the late thirties he had racked up thousands of broadcasts. In the 1940s, an aging Nat Shilkret seems to have slowed the prolific output of his younger years and retired from RCA Victor altogether around the middle of the decade. There are some people who have disdain for large corporations. However, there is no escaping the fact the consumer ultimately decides what is the best. A record company like RCA Victor does not become a big corporation unless it produces quality with an eye for innovation. While Brunswick, Columbia, and others produced fine recordings in their own right, history shows that RCA Victor was the number one label in the Jazz Age. And we know that Nat Shilkret was a musician, a composer, an arranger, a director, a producer, and recording executive of the Jazz Age for RCA Victor. The master's voice. Enough said.

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