Lil Green was known as the Queen of the Blues in the early 1940s when her distinctive, seductive voice was highlighted on “Romance in the Dark,” “Why Donít You Do Right?” and other blues and pop songs recorded for the Bluebird label. Born Lillie Mae Johnson in or near Port Gibson in 1901, she lived with her family in the College Street area as a child. She began her professional career in Chicago and later toured the country as a top attraction. She died in Chicago in 1954.
Lil Green was one of the nationís best-loved African-American singers of her era, hailed in an Apollo Theater ad as “the greatest of all blues singers” when she appeared in Harlem in 1943. Her unique blues style and repertoire, incorporating jazz, gospel and pop, engendered widespread appeal, and she attained heights reached only by an elite number of blues singers of the 1940s. Green exuded youthful sweetness and charm yet retained a sultry, streetwise allure in her high-pitched delivery. Upon meeting her one writer described her as “disarmingly down to earth.”
In the late 1940s Green partnered, on and offstage, with trumpeter Howard Callender, who played on several of her last RCA Victor records. Green continued to tour even as her record sales were declining, but uterine cancer began to take its toll. She recorded for the Aladdin label in 1949 and Atlantic in 1951 and was still able to play at the Regal and smaller Chicago venues, Detroitís Flame Show Bar and other spots in the 1950s. She died in Chicago on April 14, 1954, of bronchopneumonia and was buried in Gary, Indiana, where her older brother Scott Johnson worked in a steel mill. She was only 34, according to published accounts based on her press biography and her death certificate, which listed her birthdate as December 22, 1919. But her girlish looks had enabled her to hide her true age. Her headstone bears a 1905 date of birth and she cited 1910 on her Social Security application. But her 1910 census entry points to a 1901 birth date, if she was born in December; hence, she would have been 52 when she died.
Erected 2019 by Mississippi Blues
Marker series. This marker is included in the Mississippi Blues Trail marker series.
Location. 31° 57.663′ N, 90° 59.045′ W. Marker is in Port Gibson, Mississippi, in Claiborne County. Marker is at the intersection of Fair Street and Market Street, on the right when traveling east on Fair Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Port Gibson MS 39150, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Commercial Buildings (within shouting distance of this marker); Claiborne County (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Bernheimer Complex (about 400 feet away); Claiborne County Courthouse (about 400 feet away); Port Gibson Bank (about 400 feet away); Lightfoot Park (about 500 feet away); First Baptist M.B. Church (about 500 feet away); The Port Gibson Boycott (about 500 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Port Gibson.
More about this marker. Market Street is also know as Main Street.
Categories. • African Americans • Arts, Letters, Music • Entertainment •
More. Search the internet for Lil Green.
Credits. This page was last revised on December 2, 2019. This page originally submitted on December 1, 2019, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana. This page has been viewed 38 times since then and 2 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on December 1, 2019, by Cajun Scrambler of Assumption, Louisiana.