LaVern Baker: Big Voice, Indomitable Spirit
March 7, 2015 11:28 AM Subscribe
LaVern Baker had a strong, soaring voice and scored hits such as Jim Dandy, Tweedle Dee, and I Cried A Tear. She also did some well-received duets, such as You're The Boss with Jimmy Ricks or Shake A Hand with Jackie Wilson. Her life wasn't as smooth as her voice, though; her hits were constantly ripped off by a white singer, and when she went to Vietnam to entertain American troops, she came down with pneumonia and was left behind by the others on the tour. "She described the fantastical saga that ensued: "I didn't know what to do, who to go to. The tour was gone and I was in a strange country where telephone service was practically nonexistent. I hitched with farmers on wagons to Bangkok…. I'd had to slog through rice paddies in water up to my shoulders in some places to get to Bangkok, so by the time the Marines got me to the base I'd had a relapse."" The difficulties were just beginning..
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