BIOGRAPHY AND DISCOGRAPHY

 

The first all female rock vocal group sadly had a short-lived career despite their ability and due to their limited output and lack of hits they probably don’t even get their due as the answer to a trivia question.

The Enchanters came together in 1950 when two young co-workers Della Simpson and Frances Kelley decided to form a group and recruited Pearl Brice and Rachel Gist, all in their early 20’s. They managed to get an accompanist, Chris Townes, who played piano, arranged and wrote material and they tried breaking into the local club circuit. In the fall of 1951 Simpson, the oldest as well as the lead singer, took matters into her own hands and called Jubilee Records’ head Jerry Blaine who agreed to listen and – maybe helped by the fact they had their own original material – signed them to a contract and brought them in for a session.

The month before The Falcons released their debut with a female lead, Goldie Boots, which marked a first for rock ‘n’ roll, and considering Blaine had his top act The Orioles cover that song at the same time – maybe even the same session – as The Enchanters, it’s very likely that he saw in them a way to latch on early to what might be a growing trend with female vocal groups.

Unfortunately, despite the quality of both The Falcons’ debut and that of The Enchanters, neither stuck around long enough to get the ball rolling as The Enchanters only saw that one studio date resulting in two singles, although they did go on tour that covered the entire eastern half of the United States and into Canada and as late as the fall Jubilee was advertising that there’d be more releases to come the following year.

But Rachel Gist and Pearl Brice, both married, left the group to focus on the home leaving the two original organizers to regroup as The Dell-Tones with two new singers, but retaining Townes as their musical leader. They had a few more releases over the years on multiple labels, usually with Della Simpson still singing lead, though the future Gloria Lynne handled their only release on Brunswick in 1953.

After Frances Kelley left in 1955 the group became a little less stable, though they continued working with Simpson doubling on drums until finally breaking up in 1957 upon which Simpson recorded solo in other fields. Ironically having befriended The Orioles – renewing acquaintances in the mid-50’s after their first meeting when they were starting out – Simpson married their then-current pianist Paul Griffin with whom she’d work during the final days of The Dell-Tones while years later Sonny Til stayed with the Griffins the final years of his life.

As for Simpson, she lasted a lot longer than that, passing away at 91 years old in August of 2022, rarely getting much credit for the groundbreaking nature of her first group.
 
 

THE ENCHANTERS DISCOGRAPHY (Records Reviewed To Date On Spontaneous Lunacy):

HOW COULD YOU (BREAK MY HEART)
(Jubilee 5072; February, 1952)
The first side released by an all-female vocal group in rock does more than just break new ground thanks to engaging group vocals, a passionate bridge by Della Simpson and a great arrangement led by saxman Buddy Lucas on a sad song transformed into something upbeat. (7)

TODAY IS YOUR BIRTHDAY
(Jubilee 5072; February, 1952)
As evidenced by the title this is worthless pop drivel foisted upon them by the record company who somehow felt the failed original by The Sugar-Tones was worth resuscitating after its death though nothing this group can come up with will bring it back to life. (1)