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Episode #420 – Little Miss Cornshucks

Air Week: May 21-27, 2018

Little Miss Cornshucks 

Little Miss Cornshucks was an influential figure in post WWII Rhythm & Blues. For one thing, she inspired Ahmet Ertegun to start Atlantic Records and when he couldn’t locate her to record her, he launched the career of Ruth Brown instead. Her version of the classic, “Try A Little Tenderness” updated 1930s torch singing by bringing it into the R&B realm, introducing Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding to the song. Lavern Baker copied Cornshucks’ country girl stage act down to the name, calling herself Little Miss Sharecropper and finding success in confusing people as to who the real Cornshucks was. Little Miss Cornshucks has an almost mythical reputation and her impact on R&B and soul is immeasurable, but she’s hardly ever mentioned today. Matt The Cat digs up the REAL Cornshucks on this week’s “Juke In The Back.” Her name was Mildred Cummings and she was born in Dayton, OH in 1923. She began recording for Marl Young’s Sunbeam label in Chicago in late 1946. Then she cut some sides for Roy Milton’s Miltone Label, as well as Aladdin, Coral and even Columbia (though those sides have never been released). Her voice is as powerful as it is personal. Her stage act was part country girl, part Vaudevillian comedienne, part torch singer and soul sister. These sides are rare and historically significant and this week, they’re jumping right out of the “Juke In The Back.”

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