The Modernaires


The harmony vocal group the Modernaires originally formed in Buffalo, NY, in 1935 (all of its members were high school pals), and were best known for singing with orchestras. Starting off as a trio (including members Hal Dickinson, Chuck Goldstein, and Bill Conway), the group would often assume a different name during these engagements, going by the Don Juan-Two and Three when they performed with the Ted Fio Rito Orchestra and the Three Wizards of Ozzie during a stint with the Ozzie Nelson Band.

Soon after, the Modernaires expanded to a quartet with the addition of member Ralph Brewster, as they joined Paul Whiteman’s musical organization in 1937, leading to performances on his radio show.

The Modernaires received their big break two years later, when the one-and-only Glenn Miller asked them to record a sequel to his big hit “Make Believe Ballroom,” titled “It’s Make Believe Ballroom Time,” as they began performing regularly around the world with the Miller Band.

Further hits with Miller soon followed, including “Chattanooga Choo Choo,” “Kalamazoo,” “I Know Why,” and “Juke Box Saturday Night,” as the Modernaires welcomed another member, Paula Kelly, to their ranks (who was the wife of Dickinson). The Modernaires were handpicked by Frank Sinatra in 1950 to back him up, as the group continued to record and perform steadily. Many Modernaires compilations have been issued over the years, including 2001’s The Very Best Of on the Collectables label.— Greg Prato – Paula Kelly Jr.

  1. Babe: Pig in the City (1998) (“Chattanooga Choo Choo”)
  2. The Glenn Miller Story (1953) (performer: “Chattanooga Choo-Choo”)
  3. Walking My Baby Back Home (1953) (performer: “Glow-worm”, “South Rampart Street Parade”)
  4. The Modernaires with the Lawrence Welk Orchestra (1952) (performer: “The Customer is Always Right”, “Gambelia”)
  5. Ted Fio Rito and His Orchestra (1949) (performer: “Olly Olly Oxen Free”, “Brush Those Tears From Your Eyes”)
  6. Orchestra Wives (1942) (performer: “I’ve Got A Gal In Kalamazoo”, “People Like You And Me”)
  7. Sun Valley Serenade (1941) (performer: “Chattanooga Choo Choo”, “I Know Why and So Do You”)
  8. Harry Reser and His Eskimos (1936) (performer: “You Hit the Spot”)
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