Skip to content


Episode #638 – Little Esther Phillips: 1950-56

Air Week: July 25-31, 2022

Little Esther

Esther Mae Jones is one of the First Ladies of R&B, yet her 1950s output under the name Little Esther is sadly overlooked. Little Esther was discovered by bandleader Johnny Otis in 1949, when she was only 14 years old. Otis immediately added her to his musical ensemble. He had scored a few hits before, but nothing could have prepared Otis for his HUGE 1950 breakthrough record, “Double Crossing Blues,” featuring Little Esther and The Robins. Otis and his group dominated the R&B lists in 1950, scoring three #1 hit records and six R&B top tens, all featuring Little Esther. This week, Matt The Cat examines Little Esther’s records with Otis as well as her duets with The Dominoes, Bobby Nunn, Little Willie Littlefield and her many solo sides for the Federal and Savoy labels. Esther Jones would gain much recognition as Esther Phillips in the 1960s and ’70s, but as a teen in the 1950s, Little Esther laid the groundwork for musical genius. The spotlight shines bright on Little Esther, this week on the “Juke In The Back.” This is the “soul that came BEFORE rock n’ roll.”


Posted in Uncategorized.