BIOGRAPHY AND DISCOGRAPHY

 

Rock music’s first female sex symbol, a curvaceous bombshell from New Orleans who also scored the first national rock hit by a female artist giving her an historical importance that belies her relatively short career.

Velma Newsome was born in 1920 in Detroit but got her professional start in the many clubs of New Orleans in the late 1940’s where she was discovered by bandleader Paul Gayten and added to his growing coterie of artists. As such she recorded for the same label, DeLuxe, who for some reason had her drop the “e” from her last name, while her nickname Chubby wasn’t at all derisive as anyone who saw her well knew.

Under any name she was bound to draw recognition, as her hourglass figure with hips that didn’t quit complimented her coyly sensuous facial features and made her a must-see feature attraction before she was even put down on wax.

Her first record “Hip Shakin’ Mama” emphasized her notorious attributes in unambiguous fashion and gave her the official nickname for which she’d forever be billed, Chubby “Hip Shakin” Newsom. The record made the national Billboard charts for a month in the winter of 1949, the first ever by a female rock artist to do so, and it also spent six weeks at #2 on the local New Orleans regional charts in Cash Box.

Her career didn’t produce any further hits, despite a string of solid records and strong local sellers, but her public appearances remained her primary means of exposure, as she remained a welcome presence on multi-artist rock tours in addition to her regular gigs at New Orleans’s legendary Dew Drop Inn where she was a headliner for years.

After a brief turn as part of a duet with Alberta Adams, another shapely singer with whom she was billed as The Bluzettes, she retired from performing in the late 1950’s. Newsom passed away in 2003, her groundbreaking achievements and their role in rock’s rise to power having largely been obscured by the passage of time.
 
 
CHUBBY NEWSOM DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):
 
 
HIP SHAKIN’ MAMA
(DeLuxe 3199; November, 1948)
Stellar debut that emphasizes all aspects of her persona, her sex appeal, her confidence, and a strong voice with excellent control and judgment which resulted in the first female performed rock hit and gave notice that the women could compete on equal terms as the men. (9)

CHUBBY’S CONFESSION
(DeLuxe 3199; November, 1948)
Though Newsom is in good form vocally, the content of the song returns her to an earlier mindset that the A-side rendered obsolete. Gone is the sexual power she holds and while she gets it back to a degree by the end this is more like a prequel to “Hip Shakin’ Mama” than anything coming from the same timeframe. (5)

BACK BITIN’ WOMAN
(DeLuxe 3204; January, 1949)
Turning the usual man-stealing storyline on its head, Newsom announces without guilt or remorse that SHE’S the one who intends to do just that and declares with utter conviction that other women are powerless to stop her, in this sultry assertion of her formidable womanly powers. (7)

BEDROOM BLUES
(DeLuxe 3204; January, 1949)
In spite of its repetitive themes from previous Newsom entries, and the crass obviousness of its intent, she pulls off this coy seduction effortlessly as she reconfirms her status as rock’s most desirable fantasy on wax. (7)

NEW ORLEANS LOVER MAN
(DeLuxe 3213; April, 1949)
More notable for launching Dave Bartholomew’s producing career as he presents Newsom in the role of a love-struck girl and frames it deftly with a hazy feel which while not quite as commercial manages to expand her potential. (6)

CLOSE TO TRAIN TIME
(DeLuxe 3213; April, 1949)
A very strong change of pace, or rather change of perspective, for Newsom whose romantic bluff is called setting up an internal melodrama that shows novice producer Dave Bartholomew’s skills with framing a song for maximum emotional appeal. (7)