KPCC's Brian Watt has a tough time imagining someone achieving success as a vocalist with Duke Ellington’s band and as the first black singing cowboy in Saturday matinee fare like “The Bronze Buckaroo.” Herb Jeffries did both, and set Brian straight during a recent interview.
96-year-old Herb Jeffries has a star on Hollywood’s walk of fame and lives in Sun City.
In his heyday, he sang the big band hit “Flamingo” and starred in numerous Westerns with all “colored” casts.
“Both of them are Americana, Brian!” Jeffries told me the day after he was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the California Pop and Jazz Council.
"Jazz, that music was started here in New Orleans in America. Also, cowboy music was invented here," Jeffries said. "Actually, all I’ve been doing is singing American music!"
Jeffries continues to sing it. He’ll turn 97 in September, and he’s booked solid with tour dates for the next two years.