Bea Wain

Bea Wain (born April 30, 1917 in New York City) was an American Big Band-era vocalist. On a 1937 recording with Artie Shaw she was credited as Beatrice Wayne, which led some to assume that was her real name. On record labels her name was shortened (without her permission) to “Bea” by the record company, ostensibly for space considerations. As she explained, “They cut it to ‘Bea’ Wain. They cut the ‘Beatrice’ out to ‘Bea.’ I was just a little old girl singer, but that’s the truth. So that’s how my name became ‘Bea Wain’.”

She led the vocal group Bea and the Bachelors (with Al Rinker, Ken Lane, and John Smedberg), and the V8 (seven boys and a girl) on the Fred Waring show. In 1937, Wain joined former Tommy Dorsey arranger Larry Clinton and His Orchestra. She was featured with Clinton on a number of hit tunes, including “Martha” and “Heart and Soul“. In 1939, she was voted the most popular female band vocalist in a Billboard, and that same year she began her solo career.

Hoagy Charmichael’s, “Heart and Soul”

“Dancing In The Dark”

Wain had four #1 hits:”Cry, Baby. Cry,” “Deep Purple“, “Heart and Soul” and her signature song, “My Reverie.” She is considered by many to be one of the best female vocalists of her era, possessing a natural feel for swing-music rhythms not often found among white singers of the day. With regard to technique, she excelled in pitch and subtle utilization of dynamics. She also communicated a feminine sensuality and sang with conviction in an unforced manner.

On May 1, 1938, Bea Wain married radio announcer André Baruch. Their honeymoon in Bermuda was cut short when Fred Allen called Baruch asking him to return to New York to substitute for his ailing announcer, Harry von Zell. They were married for 53 years. Baruch died in 1991.

Two great V-Disc recordings from 1943

One of my favorite band recording, “My Reverie” recorded 7/16/1938
vocal by Bea Wain Based on Debussy’s melody Reverie.

Following her musical career, the couple worked as a husband-and-wife disc jockey team in New York on WMCA, where they were billed as Mr. and Mrs. Music. In 1973, the couple moved to Palm Beach, Florida, where they did a top-rated daily four-hour talk show for nine years before relocating to Beverly Hills.

“Get Happy”

In a 2004 interview with Christopher Popa, she reflected:

Actually, I’ve had a wonderful life, a wonderful career. And I’m still singing, and I’m still singing pretty good. This past December, I did a series of shows in Palm Springs, California, and the review said, “Bea Wain is still a giant.” It’s something called Musical Chairs. I did six shows in six different venues, and I was a smash. And I really got a kick out of it.[1]

In James A. Michener‘s 1971 novel The Drifters, characters discuss Bea Wain and her recording of “My Reverie” in two separate chapters of the book. In 2002, her recording of “My Reverie” was used in the Robin Williams movie One Hour Photo.

1941 “Do I Worry?”

The couple had two children: Bonnie Baruch and her husband, Mark Barnes, operate a vineyard in Northern California and run the Daisy Foundation, an organization which recognizes nurses for their critical role in patient care and supports research towards the cure of auto-immune diseases. Wayne Baruch has a career in the music and theatre business, and his wife, Shelley Baruch, is a theatrical producer and filmmaker.

In 1991 I was performing nightly with my quartet in the famous Garden Court, at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. The USO happened to be celebrating their 50th reunion and many of the famous stars of the big bands were present. Les Brown’s band was performing. On one of my breaks, I was standing at the doorway to the USO event and an older, attractive woman was standing next to me waiting to go inside. I thought to myself, “That looks like Bea Wain.” Next thing I heard was Les Brown announcing, “Ladies and gentleman, it is my pleasure to introduce the lovely Ms. Bea Wain.” I stayed to listen to her performance. She was terrific! After the USO show broke, Bea Wain and her husband Andre walked by the Garden Court and heard my band playing. When I saw them coming I told the band to stop playing what ever we were playing at the time and to go right into “Deep Purple.” When we finished the song, Bea came up to me and said, “that was so special!” I replied, “special? Special is playing Deep Purple for the lady who introduced it 52 years ago.” I asked her if she wouldn’t mind singing a song with our band and she graciously agreed. We settled on “Our Love Is Here To Stay” which was also one of her big hits in the early 40’s. She was wonderful. The audience loved her and I was on cloud nine! I asked her if it would be okay for me to write to her. Her answer surprised me. She said, “you can write to me and I’d love to hear from you, but I won’t write back. I never do.” She later explained that she receives so much mail that she would be at her desk all day long if she attempted to reply. She said she was flattered that I wanted to write. Shortly after meeting Bea, her husband Andre passed away. I know that must have been very difficult for her. They were so close. I think of that evening quite often and it has become one of “those stories” I like to tell -even this many years later…..

Bea Wain Today

Sources: Wikipedia, youtube.


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