Notebook Cover

Ann Cole

By Marv Goldberg

© 2023 by Marv Goldberg

Ann Cole had a couple of hits in the 1950s and was, for a while, a mainstay of Baton Records. Some of her story is, however, quite murky, but we'll get to that later. [Note that I'll use some quotes from Sol Rabinowitz (owner of Baton), as told to John Broven in a 2010 interview; you'll find the citation at the end of the article.]

Ann Cole

Coleman Brothers "Ann Cole" was born Cynthia Coleman, in Newark, New Jersey, on January 29, 1934. Her father, Wallace Coleman, and her uncles (Lander, Russell, Melvin, and Everett, along with non-relative Danny Owens, who'd end up with the 4 Tunes) were members of a spiritual vocal group, the Coleman Brothers. Her mother was Carrie Lott, who married Wallace Coleman in 1933.

The 1940 census showed the Coleman family in Newark: Wallace (a street sweeper) and Carrie, along with Cynthia and her siblings: Sylvia, Leonard, Lander, and Lillie.

With spirituals running through the family, by the time she was 12, Cynthia was singing in her grandfather's church in Vauxhall, New Jersey.

Vargo 624 Record Specialties 624 ad for The Fishin' Song ad for Ann Cole in Indianapolis There was an August 1947 Ann Cole record on Record Specialties from Indianapolis (also released on Vargo in Michigan): "The Fishin' Song", backed with "Adam Had 'Em". These were categorized as racy "party records". ("The Fishing Song" would also be done by the 5 Scamps on Columbia in 1949.) However, you're not missing these from your Ann Cole collection; they're by a different singer.

By 1949, at the age of 15, Cynthia had formed her own gospel group, called the Colemanaires, with Joe Walker (tenor and piano), Sam Walker (second tenor), and Wesley Johnson (baritone). Their gospel recordings for Timely (1953-4) and Apollo (which would purchase Timely) are outside the scope of this article, but you'll find them listed in the discography.

In the 1950 census, still in Newark, Carrie Coleman, now separated from Wallace, was the head of the family. Aside from the five children named before, Cynthia now had two additional sisters: Brenda, and Lorraine.

In 1954, Cynthia Coleman crossed over into R&B, probably because that's where the money was. (As you'll see later, money was a driving force in her life.) Since the gospel community was never happy with its artists switching over to the "devil's music", she changed her name to "Ann Cole". (Her full name was Cynthia Ann Coleman.)

Timely 1006 She began performing in New York and New Jersey bars as a singer/pianist, although there are no ads for either Ann or Cynthia. Remaining with Timely, she released "Danny Boy", coupled with "Smilin' Through" in April 1954 (at which time Timely was still issuing Colemanaires recordings). Note that the orchestra on these was conducted by Howard Biggs, former pianist/arranger for the Ravens.

They were reviewed in the April 17 Cash Box and the April 24 Billboard:

Danny Boy (CB; B): Powerful Ann Cole makes an exciting vocal debut as she gives a spiritual feeling to a great oldie. Great voice that should sell well in blues and pop. Could make noise.

Smilin' Through (CB; C+): The thrush sends up a good styling of another standard. A belting arrangement, more pop in design.

Danny Boy (BB; 70): The traditional tune receives a good rendition from the canary, who sings it in a spiritual style, over smooth backing by the ork.

Smilin' Through (BB; 73): The thrush turns in a smart reading of the great oldie that could get some action in the R&B and pop fields. The backing rocks and the chirp sells the tune with feeling.

Ann really did have a powerful voice and, according to Sol Rabinowitz (owner of Baton Records), she actually had the power to make an audience cry.

Timely 1007 Her next Timely release was "I'll Find A Way", backed with "Oh Love Of Mine", in June 1954. (Note that the labels on this disc say "Anne Cole".) They were reviewed in the July 24 issues of both Billboard and Cash Box:

Oh Love Of Mine (BB; 79): Anne Cole turns in a sock reading of a pretty new ballad. The thrush is a mighty fine singer, and she proves it with her work here. Side has a chance for action with enough exposure.

I'll Find A Way (BB; 74): A pop-styled ballad receives a soulful reading from the thrush, while the ork backs her with an old-fashioned pop orchestration. The girl could make it big with the right material and arrangements.

Oh Love Of Mine (CB; C+): On this end the thrush rides through a dramatic power packed romantic item better suited for the blues market. Driving job.

I'll Find A Way (CB; B): The amazing voice of Anne Cole belts our a dramatic version of a good love song. Thrilling vocal quality. Strong and expressive. Good for pop and blues.

The August 11, 1954 Down Beat listed the songs in a column called "These Will Also Bear Hearing".

Timely 1010 Her next Timely release was in November 1954: "So Proud Of You", coupled with "Down In The Valley" (which isn't the old tune they forced you to sing in public school). They were reviewed in the December 18 Cash Box:

So Proud Of You (B+): An unusual blues item that shows off the voice of a fine singer. Lots of religious feeling here.

Down In The Valley (B): Ann Cole goes to town in this shouty portrayal. An upbeat item with lots of movement.

The February 26, 1955 Billboard reported the marriage of Ann Cole to Thomas Farrell. However this Ann Cole was the sister of pianist Liberace, so I won't even mention it. As far as I've been able to determine, "our" Ann Cole never married.

Timely 1012 There was one more Timely release: "Since I Fell For You", paired with "Then You Taught Me How To Cry", at an unknown 1955 date. Since Timely was doing poorly and was about to go out of business, it was probably only pressed on 78 and not sent out for review.

Mor-Play 701 Ann's next release, also from 1955, was on the obscure Mor-Play label from Buffalo, New York: "Please Forgive Me", backed with "I Want To Be A Big Girl". They were recorded with the obscure Claudiettes, who weren't a vocal group.

Sol Rabinowitz Enter Sol Rabinowitz, owner of New York's Baton Records. He'd heard one of Ann's Timely recordings and was impressed enough to go looking for her. Here's what Sol told John Broven:

Along came Ann Cole around that time. I'd been looking for her for about a year. I heard her on the record that she made for somebody else [Timely], it never sold but I heard it on the radio. I said that girl's a singer, she is good, I'd like to get her. So I started looking for her and I couldn't find her. I called all the disc jockeys I knew in New Jersey until I found one that knew her. He said she's working in Paterson right now; he gave me the name of the club in Paterson and I drove out there, walked into the club, introduced myself to her; she could hardly talk, she was hoarse. She was singing like six hours a night and making about 50 bucks a week in a little place where she also played piano. She sang all kinds of stuff, she made up her own blues numbers; they weren't very good, but she'd sing them. She also sang 'Danny Boy'; she could make people cry with that song, it was really great. I said, 'I want to see you in my office, I think we can work out something where you can make records for me'. She made an appointment and came a week after the appointment, which was a pattern of hers - she was crazy. She signed a contract with us, wanted me to be her manager, I said, 'No, I can't do that but I'll help you whenever I can'.

Sol also told John Broven about when Ann sang "Danny Boy":

You could have heard a pin drop in that place; people jumped up and started screaming afterwards. To this day I think I made a mistake in not recording that song; it was straight pop. I should have recorded it because it would have been a hit for her because she sang the shit out of it.

Baton 218 Ann's first Baton release was "Are You Satisfied?" (a cover of a country number by Sheb Wooley on M-G-M), backed with "Darling, Don't Hurt Me". Of course you know Sheb Wooley from "Purple People Eater", but he was also an actor, one of the three outlaws waiting at the train station for the main baddie in "High Noon".

More from the Broven interview with Sol Rabinowitz:

I found a song on the radio that I thought she could sing, it was her first record, 'Are You Satisfied?' I decided to do it a la Patti Page, you know, with four voices. She was very good at that, she made it sound really great. It looked like we were going to have a hit with it until Mercury recorded it with Rusty Draper. We had a lot of the same distributors, and they started turning the screws on the distributors to go off the Ann Cole record and get the Rusty Draper record played. The original was sung on MGM [by Sheb Wooley], which probably sold the most. But it told the distributors that Ann Cole had something going for her; it was a very good record.

The November 26, 1955 Cash Box said:

Baton is the first r & b label to latch onto "Are You Satisfied" which has been the subject of a rash of pop covers. Ann Cole, formerly with Timely Records, is the artist rocking the novelty. It was cut Tuesday, 2 am, mastered immediately, on the air Wednesday, and shipments out Thursday. Can't cut it much closer than that. [And can't get better flights of fancy from a press agent.]

The song was also covered by Jimmy Wakely, on Decca; Rusty Draper, on Mercury; Connie Francis, on M-G-M; and Toni Arden, on Victor.)

Ann's version was reviewed in the December 3 Billboard:

Are You Satisfied (76): The canary belts across the c&w hit with plenty of song savvy and an infectious beat.

Darling, Don't Hurt Me (72): A warm, expressive reading by the thrush on a sincere blues.

The January 14, 1956 Billboard called it a Best Buy:

Initial sales of this record in New York were impressive. Its success has been repeated in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Pittsburgh and Buffalo. Now Southern and Middle Western areas report a similar pattern of mounting sales. New Orleans, Nashville, Durham, and St. Louis are typical markets doing good business.

ad for Are You Satisfied "Are You Satisfied?" was a minor national hit, going to #10 on Billboard's R&B charts in January 1956, although only for a single week. That doesn't really tell the whole story, because it did extremely well in regional markets.

at the Bronx Theater On February 10-12, 1956 Ann was part of a Hal Jackson show at The Bronx Theatre (cleverly located in the Bronx, although the February 16 Billboard referred to it as the "Opera House movie theater"). The stars of the show were the Heartbeats, the Cadillacs, the Valentines, the Bonnie Sisters, and Big Al Sears (interestingly, all those acts, but not Ann Cole, had been part of Alan Freed's Holiday Jubilee show the prior Christmas week - I know, because I was there). Also on the bill were Ruth McFadden, Julian Dash, and Screamin' Jay Hawkins. (And, of course, my all-time favorites: "Many Other Guest Stars".) This is the first documented Ann Cole appearance I can find.

Ann Cole But Ann didn't do so well on television. The Indianapolis Recorder of February 11 had this:

When Annie Cole made a guest appearance on Mitch Thomas' TV disk jockey show in Wilmington, Del. (WPFH-TV), the popular singer goofed on her "Are You Satisfied" hit.

Mitch, just like many other TV deejays, doesn't have the space or budget for bringing in a great artist's orchestra or choral backing on a hit recording. So he has the artists stand before the camera and fake the singing (or instrument) while the recording is being played. Ann Cole, for some reason, failed to keep up with her "Are You Satisfied" hit, turning in a very unconvincing performance - much to the displeasure of the viewers.

ad for Easy Easy Baby Baton 224 In March, Baton released "New Love", coupled with "Easy, Easy, Baby". Both sides have an unidentified and subtle group (called the "Cole-Minors" on the "New Love" side). They were reviewed in the March 31 editions of both Billboard and Cash Box:

New Love (BB; 80): Smart ballad based on the melody of "Auld Lang Syne" is warbled with tremendous know-how by Ann Cole. Nostalgic sentiment of the opus should grab hold of many listeners and the side could easily take off. Bears watching.

Easy, Easy, Baby (BB; 74): Another good blues ballad, also sung with great professionalism. This, too, will please listeners.

New Love (CB; B+): Ann Cole has a really potent piece of material in her romantic story set to the popular "Auld Lang Syne". It is a beautifully performed effort that could make real strides in the direction of the charts. Watch this one closely.

Easy, Easy, Baby (CB; B): Ann Cole gets very much into the rhythm and blues feeling with this side as she wails the slow, rhythmic tune. This gal can sing - and with her successful "Are You Satisfied" to make the path just that much easier, either of these decks might stir things up.

at Tomlinson Hall The March 24, 1956 Cash Box said that Ann was one of the cast of the "Rhythm & Blues Show Of 1956", which would start touring in April. Others in the cast were Fats Domino, Ruth Brown, the Clovers, Little Richard, the Cadillacs, Little Willie John, the Turbans, Joe Medlin, Al Jackson's Fat Men, and the orchestra of Choker Campbell. Here's as much of the itinerary as I've been able to find:

April 1 - Mosque in Richmond, Virginia
April 2 - Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina
April 7 - Municipal Auditorium in Norfolk, Virginia
April 11 - Mosque in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
April 12 - Memorial Auditorium in Buffalo, New York
April 14 - Tomlinson Hall in Indianapolis, Indiana
April 15 - Music Hall in Kansas City, Missouri
April 15 - Municipal Theater in Tulsa, Oklahoma
April 21 - City Coliseum in Austin, Texas
April 22 - Loyola Field House in New Orleans, Louisiana
April 24 - Tennessee State A&I University in Nashville, Tennessee
April 25 - Memorial Auditorium in Chattanooga, Tennessee
April 26 - City Auditorium in Atlanta, Georgia
April 27 - Memorial Auditorium in Raleigh, North Carolina
May 1 - Chilhowee Park Auditorium in Knoxville, Tennessee
May 6 - Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham, Alabama

Baton's press agent was out and about in the June 23 Billboard (although he didn't seem to know his boss' name):

Baton's Saul [sic] Rabinowitz is working to establish Ann Cole, and after a slow start, the thrush is starting to get off the ground. The side that's doing it, according to Rabinowitz, is "Easy, Easy, Baby".

That makes no sense, since she had had a great start with "Are You Satisfied?" and "Easy, Easy, Baby" wouldn't be a hit.

ad for Easy Easy Baby The results of Cash Box's R&B Poll (with voting by DJs), printed in their July 14, 1956 edition, showed Ann to be #1 in the "Which Up And Coming Female Vocalist Do You Think Is The Most Promising?" category. Behind her were Dolly Cooper, Ruth McFadden, Della Reese, Priscilla Bowman, Marie Knight, and Dakota Staton. If you're interested, the other winners were:

Most Programmed Record - "The Great Pretender" (Platters)
Most Programmed Female Vocalist - Ruth Brown
Most Programmed Male Vocalist - Fats Domino
Most Programmed Vocal Group - Platters
Most Programmed Orchestra - Count Basie
Small Instrumental Group - Ernie Freeman
Up And Coming Male Vocalist - Little Willie John / Little Richard (tie)
Up And Coming Male Group - Teenagers
Up And Coming Female Group - Teen Queens

Baton 229 In August, Baton issued "My Tearful Heart", backed with "I'm Waiting For You". Both have the same unidentified group as her prior release. They were reviewed in the September 1, 1956 editions of both Billboard and Cash Box:

My Tearful Heart (BB; 76): Miss Cole, a fine talent, shouts a good enough torcher with style and power. Material doesn't really stand out, but she makes the most of it.

I'm Waiting For You (BB; 76): Blues wailer comes off equally well. Good band backing.

My Tearful Heart (CB; B+): Ann Cole turns in a strong pop styled performance of a slow paced pretty. A moving ballad is given a teener type rock treatment that should prove to be a strong vote getter for the up and coming vocalist. The gal really sings it and the proof should show up in the sales column.

I'm Waiting For You (CB; B): Miss Cole sings a torch blues with a feeling-filled reading. Comes off very well and makes it a strong coupling.

At some point, probably in September, Ann recorded four more songs for Baton: "In The Chapel", "Got My Mo-Jo Working (But It Just Won't Work On You)", "Each Day", and "I've Got A Little Boy". On the first three, she was backed up by the Suburbans (who weren't the group on the prior releases).

ad for In The Chapel Baton 232 Baton next released "In The Chapel", backed with "Each Day", in October 1956. Considering all the hoopla about "In The Chapel", it was really only another minor national chart hit: two weeks on the national R&B charts, rising to #14. Again, though, it did very well in regional markets (so much so that it might have been Baton's biggest seller).

On October 20, 1956 the disc in was in Billboard's Review Spotlight:

The trush [sic] proves that she's one of the real stylists of the r&b field with this extremely classy coupling. On top it's a slow, pulsing hymn of love set to the tune and the piano beats of an old gospel offering. The flip is the same kind of wonderfully backed, solidly emoted thrushing. Sock potential on both sides.

"In The Chapel" was co-written by David Clowney (the future Dave "Baby" Cortez, who was probably still with the Pearls at this point - his real name was David Cortez Clowney); he's probably the pianist on the session. The other writer was Larry Coleman, who, I suppose, was a relative of hers. "Each Day" was another Clowney composition, this time along with Bob Kornegay (of the Du Droppers) and Paul Winley (brother of the Clovers' Harold Winley and future owner of Winley Records).

On October 27, it was Cash Box's Sleeper Of The Week, but it was the "Each Day" side that they really liked:

Ann Cole Ann Cole, whom jockeys voted the most promising young singer in the country last year, comes up with two socko sides that should boost the gal into the national charts with either or both sides. We lean just the slightest shade to "Each Day", a quick beat rhythmic jump that Miss Cole rocks out with a great performance and backed with a good arrangement. It's down to earth material with a spiritual feeling, tho the lyrics are strictly on an outgoing love kick. The "In The Chapel" offering is a slow, unique ballad, with a tricky piano that lends just the proper lift. Miss Cole's vocaling is tops. This side will take more exposure but it is a heavyweight and could be big. Keep close tabs on both decks.

"Each Day" was covered by Sylvia Sims on Decca.

at the Apollo Ann appeared at the Apollo Theater the week of November 11, 1956, as part of a Dr. Jive show. She shared the stage with the Cadillacs, Bo Diddley, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, the Dells, the Debutantes, the Schoolboys, the Chips, the Heartbeats, Robert & Johnny, Young Jessie, and the Reuben Phillips Orchestra. This was Apollo owner Frank Schiffman's comment: "Exceptionally fine blues singer".

Ann appeared at Washington, D.C.'s Howard Theater the week of November 23, 1956. The other acts were: Joe Turner, the 5 Satins, the Cookies, and the Choker Campbell Orchestra.

When Cash Box revealed the results of its annual poll in their December 8, 1956 issue. Ann was the 8th Best R&B Female Vocalist of 1956 with 3,285 votes. In first place was Lavern Baker (19,237) followed by Ruth Brown, Big Maybelle, Dinah Washington, Faye Adams, Varetta Dillard, and Ella Johnson. Behind Ann were Shirley Gunter and Etta James.

The January 5, 1957 Billboard called "In The Chapel" a Best Buy:

It's taken over two months for this record to get started, but it's going like "gangbusters" now. The record appears this week on the Cincinnati and Washington territorial charts and stands a good chance of hitting the national list very soon.

at the Jefferson Theater at the Capitol and Regal theaters On January 17, 1957, Ann appeared at the Hippodrome in Richmond, Virginia, along with the Turbans, Bo Diddley, and the Choker Campbell Orchestra. Strangely, from January 18-20, that show played a different Norfolk, Virginia theater each day: Capitol, Regal, and Jefferson.

By that time, it had been announced that she'd be part of Irvin Feld's "Greatest Show Of 1957", along with Fats Domino, the 5 Keys, the Moonglows, the 5 Satins, Eddie Cooley & the Dimples, Charles Brown, the Schoolboys, Bill Doggett, Tommy Brown, and the Paul Williams Orchestra. Before it started, Clyde McPhatter and Chuck Berry were added.

at the Apollo Right before that tour, Ann was back at the Apollo Theater for the week of February 8. Called the "R&B Stars Of 1957", the show also had the Solitaires, the Pearls, the Velours, the Belltones, the Playboys, Robert & Johnny, and the Paul Williams orchestra. Frank Schiffman said: "Went Over Very Well". She was paid $275 for the week, which works out to something like 50 cents a minute.

Here's something I never thought of before: before these package shows went on the road, they were rehearsed. This is from the February 23 Billboard:

A last-minute rehearsal of the Irv Field [sic] "Biggest Show" package that opened in Pittsburgh Friday (15) was held in New York two days beforehand in the Nola Studios. Many of the acts had a show at the Apollo Theater earlier in the evening, and therefore the rehearsal did not get underway until after midnight. It went on until 5:30 a.m. - and left the strong impression that this is going to be one of the most outstanding packages of its type ever assembled. (A prediction: a surprise smash on the tour will be Ann Cole.)

at the Indiana Theater ad for Biggest Show The tour kicked off in Pittsburgh, on February 15, 1957, and played one nighters through May 5. This is most of the schlepping they did all over the country:

February 15: Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh
February 16: Olympia Theater in Detroit
February 20: Sports Arena in Toledo
February 21: Indiana Theater in Indianapolis
February 22: Kentucky Fair And Exposition Center in Louisville
February 23: Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis
February 27: Fairgrounds Coliseum in Salt Lake City
February 28: Civic Center in Butte, Montana
March 1: Stampede Corral in Calgary, Alberta
March 3: Coliseum in Spokane, Washington
March 4: CPS Fieldhouse in Tacoma, Washington
March 5: Portland, Oregon (unknown venue)
March 8: Stevens & Son Theater in Salem, Oregon
March 9: Richmond Auditorium in Oakland, California
March 11: Civic Center in San Jose, California
March 14: Municipal Auditorium in Long Beach, California
March 17: Sports Center in Tucson, Arizona
March 18: Coliseum in El Paso, Texas
March 19: Armory in Albuquerque, New Mexico
March 20: Will Rogers Memorial Auditorium in Fort Worth, Texas
March 21: Municipal Auditorium in Oklahoma City
March 22: Coliseum in Waco, Texas
March 23: Memorial Coliseum in Corpus Christi, Texas
March 28: Ellis Auditorium in Memphis
March 29: Municipal Auditorium in Birmingham
April 1: Township Auditorium in Columbia, South Carolina
April 3: State Fair Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina
April 4: Coliseum in Charlotte, North Carolina
April 6: Municipal Auditorium in Norfolk, Virginia
April 7: Mosque in Richmond, Virginia
April 10: back at the Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh
April 14: Bushnell Memorial in Hartford, Connecticut
April 17: Auditorium in Ottawa
April 19: back at the Indiana Theater in Indianapolis
April 21: Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City
April 22: Roberts Municipal Stadium in Evansville, Indiana
April 24: Garden in Cincinnati
April 26: Hershey Sports Arena in Hershey, Pennsylvania
April 27: CYC in Scranton, Pennsylvania
April 28: Forum in Montreal
April 30: Community War Memorial in Rochester, New York
May 2: Fabian Theater in Paterson, New Jersey
May 5: Mosque in Richmond, Virginia

The March 2, 1957 Billboard said: "Baton Records is about to fuse a new Ann Cole bombshell. It's on the rhythm side and an advance pressing made a deep impression on a few auditors allowed to preview it." They were talking about "Got My Mo-Jo Working"

ad for Mo-Jo Baton 237 In March, Baton released "Got My Mo-Jo Working (But It Just Won't Work On You)" (with the uncredited Suburbans), backed with "I've Got A Little Boy" (with no group). However, there was a catch. In late 1956, on a month-long tour through the South with bluesman Muddy Waters, Ann sang the song, which had been recorded, but not yet released (in spite of Sol Rabonowitz's warning her not to sing unreleased material). So that Muddy's band could follow her, Ann taught them the song. Waters liked it so much that he got Leonard Chess to let him record it (without telling Chess that it wasn't his own composition - the song had been written by a black composer named Preston "Red" Foster). [Thanks to Murray Kirch for pointing out that it wasn't Preston Foster, the actor.] Both versions subsequently ended up being released in the same week. There were lots of lyrical differences between the two versions, because Muddy couldn't remember Foster's lyrics and made up a lot of his own. Even worse, his name (McKinley Morganfield) appeared on the Chess label as the song's author. This resulted in a lawsuit, which Foster won.

But, while Foster won the writer's credit, publishing was a different story. Here's what Sol Rabinowitz told John Broven:

"And it started a legal situation. I had a friend, his name is Harold Lipsius, the owner of Jamie/Guyden; he and I were close at the time and he was a lawyer. I told him the story and he said it's tough because Gene [Goodman at Arc Publishing, which Chess used] was not only licensing it in the States but he'd given to all his subpublishers around the world as his song; he was collecting money for it and whatever it was earning at the time, which was not a lot. So Harold Lipsius convinced me that it would be impossible to sue him in all the countries of the world to straighten this out. He said you're better off making a deal with him. I said, "I can't do that, it's my song, why should I give him anything?" He said because if you don't you won't get anything. And he [Lipsius] convinced me to give him [Goodman] a third of the earnings of the song. It was the sorriest thing I ever did, it was stupid. ... Preston Foster got his share as writer, he didn't split it with Muddy."

Note that a 'mojo" is a magic spell or charm; Ann's was spelled "Mo-Jo", whereas Muddy's was "Mojo". In spite of the fact that they were both hits and are both excellent versions, today the song is usually associated with Muddy Waters.

The March 30 Billboard made Ann's "Mo-Jo" a Spotlight record:

The canary belts across the sock rhythm-novelty "Got My Mo-Jo Working" with solid personality impact. This one should get considerable jockey and juke attention, even tho it has to buck the Muddy Waters version. Flip is a provocative little ditty, sung with strong sales-savvy by the thrush. Both sides are ones to watch.

On that same date, Cash Box made it a Sleeper Of The Week (along with the Pearls' "Your Cheatin' Heart"):

Ann Cole, whose stature with the trade and buying public has been growing with each successive release, takes off here with a wild, quick beat jump, "Got My Mo-Jo Working". Miss Cole pulls out all the stops, throws restraint to the winds, and rocks out this wild love story mixed with potions, luck charms, voodoo, etc. It is an exciting side that could be the big one the gal is looking for. The flip, "I've Got A Little Boy", is a middle beat rocker blues that showcases Ann Cole's talents. Deck comes out a good wax that can stand on its own two feet given the opportunity. "Mo-Jo" is the novelty and will show a quick reaction. "Little Boy" may come to the forefront later. Two good commercial sides.

A blurb in the March 30, 1957 Billboard called Ann "one of the most promising of the new thrushes", based on her recordings of "Mo-Jo" and "I've Got A Little Boy".

The April 27 Billboard called both versions of "Mo-Jo" Best Buys:

Ann Cole: St. Louis, New York, Buffalo, and Detroit find the platter very much to their liking. Sales are strongest in those areas. The record is high on the Southern territorial charts and other locales report that sales are good and on the up-swing.

Muddy Waters: The platter by Muddy Waters is vying for top sales receipts with the Ann Cole version. At this point, they are almost even.

On May 4, 1957, Mo-Jo was #16 on Cash Box's "The Nation's R&B Top 20". In spite of both being hits territorially, neither version ever made Billboard's national charts.

And then, "In The Chapel" popped up again. This was in the May 6, 1957 Billboard:

Old rhythm and blues records never die. They live on in collectors' shelves and sometimes they can experience a completely new life - in another world - the world of pop. Such is the case of an exciting Ann Cole disk - released over seven months ago for the first time - "In The Chapel". Baton's Sol Rabinowitz up till last Monday was well satisfied with a good R&B sale. Then a call came from Cleveland on Monday for 400 copies for pop stores. Another call Wednesday for 600 and a call from Detroit for a similar number. The disk appears to be breaking in the pop field in both cities, with Cleveland jocks reporting it in their top 10 pop selections of the week.

When Marcia Vance and I interviewed Sol Rabinowitz in 1975, he said his biggest Baton hit was either Ann Cole's "In The Chapel" or Noble Watts' "Hard Times (The Slop)".

at the the Palms From May 24-26, 1957, Ann was at the Palms in Hallandale, Florida, along with the Harptones. Then, she was at the Manhattan Casino in St. Petersburg, Florida on May 31, along with guitarist Jimmy Rogers, a Chess artist.

Here's another one I don't believe (again, it's all over the Internet):

She is also believed to be the uncredited female singer on Fats Domino's record "When I See You".

However, consider the facts: The song was recorded in California on June 13, 1957, at which time Fats was appearing at Zardi's Jazz Land in Los Angeles. As I said above, she was in Florida from May 20-31. She next turns up at the Apollo Theater the week of June 28. On "When I See You", the female voice only sings "whoo-oo"s and a single phrase ("like a ship upon a sea"), so even if it is her, which I strongly doubt, it's not much of an appearance. Why would she go all the way out to L.A. to do that, when she didn't even have any appearances there? Why would anyone pay to have her go out there for a minor (and forgettable) appearance on that song? Sorry, I don't believe it.

Al Green and Ann Cole In April 1957, she was signed by Al Green, Lavern Baker's manager. However, the association didn't last long; he died on December 18.

Baton 243 Ann's next Baton release was May's "No Star Is Lost", backed with "You're Mine", both with the Dread Chorus. "Star" is what's called in the trades a "religioso" recording. In addition, on "You're Mine", Ann's voice is overdubbed on top of her original vocal, and the label credits "Vocal by Ann Cole & Ann Cole".

The record became Cash Box's Sleeper Of The Week on June 15 (along with a little-known Del Vikings' song, "Whispering Bells"):

Ann Cole, one of the most promising talents in the business, does a magnificent job with an inspirational romancer "No Star Is Lost". Song could break wide open in the pop field.

at the Apollo On June 28, 1957, Ann was part of another Dr. Jive show at the Apollo Theater. It also included the Sensations, Charlie & Ray, the Velours, the Jesters, the Charts, Roy Brown, the Heartbeats, Joan & Joy, and Donnie Elbert. This time, Frank Schiffman paid her the round sum of $413.35 for the week and said "Very good. She has improved." That makes no sense, since he had had glowing things to say about her previously.

In a Cash Box DJ poll, in their July 6 edition, Ann came in #3 in the "Which Female Vocalist Did You Program Most" category. She was behind Lavern Baker and Ruth Brown, but ahead of Big Maybelle, Dinah Washington, Ella Johnson, Faye Adams, Varetta Dillard, Annie Laurie, Etta James, Shirley Gunter, and Margie Day.

at the Circle Theater Ann Cole was part of the "Hit Parade Show Of 1957" tour, along with Chuck Willis, Roy Gaines, the Cadillacs, the 5 Keys, the Flamingos, and Charlie & Ray. However, I can only find a couple of places it played: on August 9-10, it was at Castle Farm in Cincinnati and August 11 found it at the Circle Theater in Cleveland. That's it.

On August 23, Ann sang at the finals of the "Miss Sunset" beauty contest in Virginia Beach, Virginia. The music was provided by Gene Barge & His Orchestra.

at the Flame Show Bar After that, she appeared at the Schubert Theater (Detroit) along with Fats Domino. As long as she was in Detroit, she appeared at the Flame Show Bar for the week beginning August 30. Also on the bill was Paul Breckenridge, Betty "Be Bop" Carter, and Maurice King & The Wolverines (the house band).

at the Circle Theater On September 22, she was back at Cleveland's Circle Theater as part of the "Fall Cavalcade Of Stars" show. Others on the bill were Bo Diddley, the Tune Weavers, the Heartbeats, Donnie Elbert (or "Bonnie Elbert" as the ad had him), and the Ralph Wilson Orchestra.

ad for I've Got Nothing Working Now Baton 247 Also in September, Baton issued "Give Me Love Or Nothing", backed with "I've Got Nothing Working Now (But My Real Old Fashioned Love)", her answer to "Got My Mo-Jo Working", once again written by Preston Foster). Both songs have the Dread Chorus. They were reviewed in the October 5 Cash Box and the October 7 Billboard:

I've Got Nothing Working Now (CB; B+): Ann Cole answers her "Mojo" with this quick beat staccato rhythm item. The lass sings with a swinging belty style and rocks out the engaging tune with real zest. It's a strong wax that should pull a good sized total sale.

Give Me Love Or Nothing (CB: B): Ann Cole goes dramatic and pop on this side and comes off with a beautiful side. Moving and well done. Should grab off lots of deejay action.

I've Got Nothing Working Now (BB; 82): This could be called the "Mo Jo" side, so close is it to the sound of the thrush's earlier disk. She belts this one in solid style, which means this is a great coupling. Both sides have the stuff to take off.

Give Me Love Or Nothing (BB: 83): A fine sincere ballad side in the style of Miss Cole's earlier "In The Chapel". Side builds in a satisfying manner and the gal gives it a strong Roy Hamilton, wide-open style reading. Plenty of power here and should be heard.

at the Apollo Ann was back at the Apollo Theater the week of October 10, 1957, in a show starring Roy Hamilton. Also there were the Tune Weavers, the Dyerettes, the Lovers, Dolly King, Billy Barnes, and the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra. The MC was DJ Bill Cook (who just happened to be Roy Hamilton's manager). Frank Schiffman said: "Quite good".

The November 11, 1957 Billboard found Ann on two more polls: In the "Most Promising Female Artists Of R&B Jockeys", she came in second, behind Della Reese. In the "Favorite Female Artists Of R&B Jockeys, she came in at #7, behind Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Dinah Washington, Lavern Baker, Ruth Brown, and Faye Adams. At least she was keeping good company.

at the Flame Show Bar On November 15, Ann started another week at Detroit's Flame Show Bar.

Ann Cole But, on November 30, Ann was a Bad Girl and got arrested while appearing in Philadelphia. The December 3 Philadelphia Tribune had a mug shot of her with the caption: "FACES REEFER RAP: Ann Cole, entertainer at the Showboat Night Club, Broad and Lombard sts., faces a narcotics charge as [the] result of a raid at the Douglass Hotel, Saturday morning." There was an elaboration in the December 19 Jet:

In Philadelphia, 24-year-old singer Ann Cole and three friends were held on $1000 bail for making filter-tipped Winstons taste like a cigarette shouldn't. Reason: the four were arrested for smoking filter-tipped marijuana cigarettes, fashioned by taking the tobacco out and refilling the space with marijuana.

And then, the legal pendulum swung the other way. This is from the December 12, 1957 Jet:

Singer Ann Cole filed suit against Baton records for not giving her an accounting of royalties she earned with the firm. She thinks she's due at least $12,000.

Regardless of her troubles, she now became part of a new touring show featuring Little Willie John and the Hal Singer Orchestra. The February 8, 1958 Cash Box said: "Little Willie John and Ann Cole set for a West Coast tour of one-nighters this month." Couldn't have been much of a tour; I can't find a single ad.

at the Apollo Ann returned to the Apollo the week of March 14, 1958. The show was called "Jocko Presents Evelyn Robinson And Her R&B Revue". It starred Bill Doggett, Little Willie John, the Pastels, the Delltones, and Lee Diamond & Upsetters (Little Richard's band). Owner Frank Schiffman didn't make any comment on her appearance this time. (Evelyn Robinson was a DJ on New York's WOV.)

at the Cotton Club at the Town Club On March 21-23, 1958, Ann starred at the Town Club in Virginia Beach. Once again, Gene Barge was the bandleader. From April 11-14, she was at the Cotton Club in Indianapolis.

May 2 found Ann at the Grenada Theater in Detroit. Others on the bill were the Miracles, Yusuf Lateef, Pee Wee Crayton, Eddie Holland, and the Count Belcher Orchestra.

at the Apollo Ann's last appearance at the Apollo was the week of May 30, 1958. It was another Dr. Jive show, featuring Ray Charles, the Drifters, the Heartbeats, the Crowns, the Cadillacs, the Cookies, Tiny Topsy, Mary Ann Fisher, and Solomon Burke. This time, Frank Schiffman paid her $325 for the week and said "Same" (which referred back to his prior "Quite good" comment). [Note: this was a pivotal show in the history of R&B. When it was over, George Treadwell, manager of the Drifters, had fired them and hired the Crowns (with Ben E. King) to be the new Drifters.]

Another poll. The June 21, 1958 Cash Box asked Disk Jockeys "Which Female Vocalist Did You Program Most?". Lavern Baker was still on top, but Ann Cole had slipped to position #7.

A write-up about Sol Rabinowitz in the July 21 Billboard had this:

Rabinowitz, who is without doubt a great cat, also makes good records. It's within memory of not only Billboard music editor, Paul Ackerman, but this writer as well, that a record of "In The Chapel", by Ann Cole, on the Baton label, was indeed a fine effort. It was a gasser, to put it in Ackerman's own inimitable phraseology. Now there's a new Ann Cole disk coming up, which should cause a flutter in the hearts of those who dig her deeply emotional, churchy style. The side is "The Love In My Heart", and Rabinowitz feels it's one of the strongest disks he has made." [They always say things like that. What are they going to say? It's "so-so", but we had nothing else to put out?]

ad for Summer Nights Baton 258 That very month, Baton released "The Love In My Heart", backed with "Summer Nights" (which I like better), both with the Dread Chorus. They were reviewed in the August 18 Billboard and the August 30 Cash Box:

The Love In My Heart (BB; 74): This has a gospel rhythm and Miss Cole gives it a spirited reading that builds well. Vocal also has the gospel quality. Definitely worth spins.

Summer Nights (BB; 74): A slow touching romantic ballad about the reminiscences on a lonely summer night. Good song idea and it's expressed with deep meaning by the thrush. Good seasonal item.

The Love In My Heart (CB; B+): The exciting voice of Ann Cole is in top form again as the songstress chants a dramatic love song to a slow beat, gospel-like backdrop. Stirring opus that builds as the side progresses. Lark can really belt a number. Side should do well in both pop and R&B.

Summer Nights (CB; B): Another strong romantic effort effectively and tearfully cried by Miss Cole. Pretty coupling that could make it.

at the Uptown Theater On August 29, 1958, Ann was part of DJ Georgie Woods' 10-day show at the Uptown Theater in Philadelphia. It starred Jerry Butler & the Impressions, Little Anthony & the Imperials, the Quintones, the Spaniels, the Dells, Frankie Ford, the Isley Brothers, and the Doc Bagby Orchestra.

Apt 25028 In January 1959, Ann made an uncredited appearance on a Clarence Samuels recording: "Without You" (she wasn't on the flip, "We're Goin' To The Hop"). This is from my upcoming Clarence Samuels article:

In January 1959, Apt issued "Without You", a duet with Ann Cole, whose name wasn't on the label for some reason (probably because she was under contract to Baton Records). Fortunately, Clarence later disclosed who it was to Dan Kochakian. It was reviewed in the January 26, Billboard and the January 31 Cash Box:

Without You (BB: 2 stars): Samuels has some touches of Joe Williams in this medium beat tune, which features a duet with an unbilled thrush, who has also a good, swinging sound. Good rocking side.

Without You (CB: B): Reverse entry is a snappy, up beat romantic ditty on which Samuels duets with an unbilled femme vocalist.

Baton Records lasted until around April 1959. At that time, the distributors were putting small companies out of business - they were neither pushing records, nor paying the manufacturers for the ones that sold.

A couple of months later, Sol formed the Sir label with Morty Craft of United Telefilm Records. "SIR" were Sol's initials: Solomon I. Rabinowitz. Since the same record and master numbers series were used, it was really a continuation of Baton. Lasting about a year, its main artist was the Fidelitys, although there were also releases by Ann Cole, the Lonely Ones, and Noble Watts.

Sir 272 In September 1959, Sir released Ann's "Nobody But Me", backed with "That's Enough". They were reviewed in the October 5 Billboard and the October 10 Cash Box:

Nobody But Me (BB; 3 stars): Miss Cole, who had a fine effort on Baton with "In The Chapel", offers a solid rhythm number in a minor key. Good material and good, jazz-styled backing.

That's Enough (BB; 3 stars): A strong gospel-flavored effort by the gal. She gets fine support from a gospel-ish girl's chorus. A good rhythmic item. Both sides are worth spins.

(CB; no separate ratings, but it was one of the records in the Award Of The Week column, as was the Moonglows' "Unemployment" / "Mama Loocie"): The thrush's fervent warbling of "That's Enough", a rollicking rhythm opus with an earthy gospel-blues quality should put her in contention for both R&B and pop chart berths. Rocking combo-chorus pitches in exuberantly. Mildly swinging jazz-tinged session holds forth on the "Nobody But Me" portion.

There are several sites that say Ann Cole was half of "Joe & Ann", who had three records on Ace and two on Hermitage between December 1959 and April 1962. She wasn't. In fact, while "Joe" was Joe Joseph, no one seems to know who "Ann" was.

at the Forrest Hotel February 27, 1960 found Ann at a Cabaret Show & Dance at the Forrest Hotel in South Norwalk, Connecticut. Also on the bill was Bo Diddley and Eddie Durham's Blues Band.

ad for Brand New House Sir 275 Ann's last Baton/Sir record was "A Love Of My Own", backed with "Brand New House", released in May 1960. It was listed in Billboard's June 6 "Moderate Sales Potential" (2-star) column:

A Love Of My Own: Ann Cole turns in a good reading of a pretty ballad with help from a chorus and ork backing her with a triplet beat.

Brand New House: Happy rocker is sold with a lilt by the thrush over a good beat by the ork. Could get spins.

at the Howard Theater From July 21-28, Ann was part of the show at the Howard Theater in Washington, D.C. She shared the stage with Little Anthony & the Imperials, Wade Flemons, the Spaniels, Titus Turner, the Danleers, and Harold Cromer.

at the Pleasure Beach Ballroom On August 20, she and the Isley Brothers were at a show at the Pleasure Beach Ballroom in Bridgeport, Connecticut; Jimmy Reed was an added attraction. It's possible that, at this time, she was living in Bridgeport or nearby New Haven; you'll see why soon.

at the Uptown Theater Ann Cole was part of a Georgie Woods show at Philadelphia's Uptown Theater, running from August 26 through September 5, 1960. It starred the Isley Brothers, Marv Johnson, the Flamingos, the Olympics, Tiny Topsy, Shirley & Lee, the Miracles, and Dave "Baby" Cortez.

M-G-M 12954 In October 1960, she had a couple of songs released on M-G-M: a remake of "In The Chapel" and "Plain As The Nose On Your Face" (with the Dread Chorus). Sol Rabinowitz supervised the session and the labels say "A Sir Records, Inc. Production". Her signing by M-G-M was announced in the October 10 edition of Billboard (which means she'd already recorded these - in either late August or early September). They were reviewed in the October 24 Billboard and the October 29 Cash Box:

In The Chapel (BB; 4 stars): Thrush sings with intensity and emotional impact on gospel-flavored song. This is a new recording of a tune she recorded several years back on another label. Side is worth exposure.

Plain As The Nose On Your Face (BB: 3 stars): Solid vocal stint by the canary on a catchy R&R ditty with infectious tempo and good chorus backing.

(Cash Box: no ratings): This could be the second chart go-round for Ann Cole and "In The Chapel". Thrush's new version (her MGM bow) of the heartfelt romantic pleader is a belting, spine-tingling beat-ballad offering that could be all over the hit lists in the near future. Backing's a real catchy jumper. Sock ork-choral support on both sides.

The last mention of an Ann Cole performance was when she was at a March Of Dimes show on January 27, 1961 at the Shelton Theater in Bridgeport. Dave "Baby" Cortez was also there and the MC was local DJ "Wild Man" Steve Gallon (WNAB).

Apollo 752 In April 1961, Apollo reissued two of her old Timely songs ("Oh Love Of Mine" and "Smilin' Through"). However, instead of calling her "Ann Cole", they were issued as "Cynthia Coleman".

ad for Don't Stop The Wedding Roulette 4452 Ann's last record came out on Roulette in September 1962: "Don't Stop The Wedding" (an answer to Etta James' "Stop The Wedding") and "Have Fun". Produced by Richard Barrett, there's a man's voice on both sides (which, I suppose, could have been Barrett's).

"Don't Stop The Wedding" was a Billboard Spotlight Single the week of October 6:

In this answer to the current Etta James hit, "Stop The Wedding", Ann Cole disagrees; she wants the wedding to go on, and sells the idea with lots of fire, backed by a catchy arrangement. Thrush's neat performance could make it a seller.

Here's the review from the October 6 Cash Box:

Don't Stop The Wedding (B+): Lark effectively offers a sequel to the Etta James (Argo) hit, "Stop The Wedding". Here, the bride-to-be has her say. A string section is part of the backdrop affair. Could prove an answer success.

Have Fun (B): Wistful blueser by the performer. Both ends open with a male narrative.

"Have Fun" spent three weeks on the R&B charts, rising to #21. On the other hand, "Don't Stop The Wedding" made the Pop charts, although only for a single week at #99.

Cynthia Coleman died in Newark, on November 4, 1986, aged 52. (Some sources say she died of heart failure in her sleep.) There was no obituary for either "Cynthia Coleman" or "Ann Cole".

That's it? You go from 1962 to 1986 with nothing in between? What happened to Ann Cole? What did she do with the rest of her life? C'mon, c'mon, we're waiting.

Questions, questions. But I may have the answer (although it's probably not the one you're anticipating). Keep in mind that much of this is circumstantial, but read it all and make up your own minds.


Let's start with this: Lots of sites (all of whom copy from each other) say this: Her sole Roulette single was a double sided hit.... Not long after that, she was in a serious car accident, which left her confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Well, that might explain things. However, search as I might, from 1958 to 1986, I couldn't find anything in the contemporary press about her being involved in a car accident.

In his 2010 interview with John Broven, Sol Rabinowitz said this:

I heard from someone that she was shot in the big bus station in New York [Port Authority Bus Terminal]; shot in the back, paralyzed for a while, and I think she died. That's what I heard.

So that's a completely different story. More important, and much more relevant, Sol also said this:

She recorded a couple of sides for M-G-M, which I produced. She walked into [M-G-M president] Arnold Maxin's office one day and wrote a check to herself, signed it with his name on Arnold's personal checkbook, and that was the last time I saw her. [It would certainly explain why there was only a single M-G-M record.] I never had anything more to do with her; she was living in New Haven, Connecticut.

So, let's forget about the shooting (since there was nothing in the press about that either) and concentrate on the check forging. Read on:

The Bridgeport Telegram of September 28, 1960:

MILFORD [Connecticut], Sept. 27 A 27-year-old Bridgeport woman accused of shoplifting in Russell's Discount center, Boston Post Road, today was arrested on a charge of theft of goods exposed for sale. Police said Ann Cole, of 358 Newfield Avenue, Bridgeport, walked out of the store with a two-piece man's suit under her coat. The woman admitted taking the suit and said she had planned to pawn it, police said.

The Bridgeport Post of February 2, 1961:

Cynthia Coleman, 27, of 358 Newfield Avenue [note: same address and age as the Ann Cole in the prior item], today is under arrest on a charge of obtaining money under false pretenses in connection with the alleged passing of $200 worth of checks to local merchants during the past month.

Lieut. Dominic A. Conte, of the Detective bureau, said the checks were part of a checkbook stolen from Patricia Alstrand, 31, of West Fair Drive, Westport, who reported her purse missing while shopping in the Fabric Shop, Reef Road, Fairfield, Dec. 20.

Miss Coleman during questioning by Sgt. Willard Stevane and Detectives James Norris and Charles Kinsman denied taking the purse and told investigators she was given the checks by a friend, police said,

Pending Circuit court arraignment Feb. 7 she is held in lieu of $1,000 bond,

The Bridgeport Telegram of April 18, 1961:

Cynthia Coleman, 27, of 358 Newfield Avenue was found guilty to charges of five counts of fraudulent issuance of checks in Circuit court yesterday by Judge J. Robert Lacey and was given a 50 day suspended jail sentence.

According to police, Miss Coleman was arrested Feb. 2 after she had passed five checks totaling $355 at the Newfield Package store, the Bay Package store and the Connecticut National bank, police said.

The Hartford Courant of July 27, 1961:

Three women were arrested Wednesday in connection with a break into a North End apartment and the theft of $146 worth of goods.

Mrs. Gladys J. Dennis, 25, and Miss Cynthia Coleman, 28. both of 285 Westland St., were both charged with breaking and entering with criminal intent and larceny. Mrs. Mamie Boyd Countryman, 31, of 26 Harrison St., was charged with receiving stolen goods.

John Newman of 285 Westland St. told police Tuesday someone picked the lock on his third-floor apartment door and stole a $76 camera.

An investigation by Detectives Van Iderstine and a teletype dispatch led to the arrest of the three women by Bridgeport police Wednesday. Mrs. Dennis and Miss Coleman are accused of committing the break and the theft and of turning the hi-fi set over to Mrs. Countrymen.

Police said they recovered the hi-fi set at Mrs. Countrymen's apartment and the camera in Bridgeport. Detective John Edmonds and Policewoman Mildred Wertz returned the three women from Bridgeport.

The Hartford Courant of June 12, 1962:

Judge Alfred Toscano sentenced Cynthia Coleman, 28, of 13-B Bellevue Sq., to the [Niantic] State Farm for Women for forgery and obtaining money by false pretenses. [I don't know if this relates back to the February 1961 crime or if it was something new. She was sentenced to three years, but escaped from Niantic on June 18, remaining at large for over a year.]

The Day (New London, Connecticut) of September 27, 1963:

A professional singer who escaped last year from the State Farm and Prison for Women at Niantic was returned from New York City yesterday to face the music.

Miss Cynthia Ann Coleman, 32, of Newark had been pursuing a musical career during the nine months she had spent in New York, police said.

She said she had made a number of recordings. Royalties from one, Don't Stop the Wedding, are expected to be coming in soon, she added.

Miss Coleman's song of freedom ended when she and another woman, unidentified by police, were arrested recently on charges stemming from the theft of a pocketbook.

Connecticut authorities were notified and Miss Coleman was held as a fugitive from justice.

She waived extradition when she was presented in Manhattan Felony Court. She was turned over to Trooper Louis Leitkowski of Troop E, Groton, and State Policewoman Susan Kenyon and they returned her to the area.

Miss Coleman is scheduled to appear today in Circuit Court, New London, on a charge of escape from a penal or correctional institution.

In June, 1962, she was sentenced to the State Farm on an indeterminate sentence following her conviction in Circuit Court, Hartford, on a charge of obtaining money by false pretenses.

Miss Coleman, who might have been thinking of the song Don't Fence Me In, escaped from the place a few weeks later.

She got out through an unlocked door and made her way to Hartford.

She remained there for a time before going to New York and embarking on her singing career.

The Hartford Courant of September 26, 1963:

GROTON (Special) - A 32- year-old escapee from the Niantic State Farm for Women was returned to the institution by State Police Wednesday after waiving extradition in a New York court on a felony charge.

Cynthia Coleman of Newark, N. J. will face a Connecticut count of escape from a penal institution today.

She escaped from the state farm last June. Since then she has apparently been working in New York as a professional singer.

New York police arrested her on a felony charge and learned from a teletype message she had escaped from the Niantic State Farm.

Police said she was fairly well known in New York as a singer of ballads including one called "Don't Stop The Wedding".

The Hackensack Record of September 27, 1963:

New London, Conn. (UPI) - Cynthia Ann Coleman is singing the blues today because her brief career as a popular rhythm and blues singer has been interrupted.

The 32-year-old singer from Newark, N. J., began her singing career just about a year ago, after escaping from the Niantic State Farm for Women. She had been sentenced on a charge of obtaining money under false pretenses.

Police said the young woman went to Hartford after the escape and friends financed her trip to New York City. There she had begun a successful singing career when she was arrested on a forgery charge.

New York police returned her to New London Wednesday.

Miss Coleman told police she wanted a speedy trial so that she can continue her career. [I'm pretty sure this is the reason why the Founding Fathers included that "speedy trial" thing in the sixth amendment to the Constitution.]

Her latest release, "Don't Stop The Wedding." is reported to be on its way to the top of the best-tune lists around the country.

[She was returned to Niantic State Farm on October 11, 1963.]

The Day (New London, Connecticut) of September 27, 1963:

Miss Cynthia Ann Coleman, 32, of Newark, N. J., a professional singer, was ordered bound over to Superior Court from Circuit Court yesterday to face a charge of escaping from the State Farm and Prison for Women at Niantic more than a year ago.

Probable cause was found by Judge Arthur G. Williams, Jr., and he set bond at $5,000.

Miss Coleman escaped in June, 1962. Since that time she has been pursuing a musical career in New York.

She told police she made a number of recordings, one of which, Don't Stop the Wedding, is expected to be paying royalties soon.

After she fled from the Farm she went to Hartford and thence to New York where she was arrested for the theft of a pocketbook. Police then learned she was wanted here for the escape.

The Hartford Courant of January 16, 1964:

NIANTIC (P) - Two inmates who had escaped on previous occasions "walked away" from the State Farm for Women again Wednesday night but were caught in less than an hour.

The fugitives were picked up at 8:15 at a toll station on the Connecticut Turnpike at Old Saybrook. They had hitched a ride with three sailors, State Police said.

The women were identified as Gloria Jackson, 27, of Bridgeport and Cynthia A. Coleman, 33, of Newark, N.J.

The Day (New London, Connecticut) of February 4, 1964:

An hour of freedom last month cost two women at least another year in prison today when they were presented in Superior Court at New London.

Cynthia A. Coleman, 33, of Newark and Gloria Jackson, 27, of Bridgeport, each pleaded guilty to escape from a penal or correctional institution.

Judge Joseph S. Longo sentenced each to one to three years at the Niantic State Farm For Women. The sentences will be served in the institution's prison section.

The two walked away from the place Jan. 14. They were free for about an hour before being apprehended at the Baldwin Bridge toll station.

They had hitched a ride with three sailors, State Police said. Both had past escape records.

The State Farm for Women Board of Directors Minutes from April 18, 1964 show that Cynthia and Gloria Jackson had 1 to 3 years additional time added onto their sentences because of the January escapes.

The Hartford Courant of May 21, 1964:

The State Board of Sentence Review Wednesday refused to reduce the sentences of 10 State Prison inmates, including a former Hartford lawyer serving a 7-to-15 year term for embezzlement, forgery and obtaining money by false pretenses....

The board, comprised of three Superior Court judges with the power to reduce or increase sentences originally imposed by the court, also rejected the claim of two inmates of the State Prison for Women that their sentences of one to three years on charges of escape are too severe because they will have to be served after current sentences expire. The women are Cynthia A. Coleman, 29, and Gloria A. Jackson, 25, who fled the prison Jan. 15 through a door on which a lock had been tampered. They made their way to the highway where they hitchhiked a ride with two sailors. Their freedom was short-lived because they were caught at the Saybrook Toll station. Both had made previous attempted escapes.

So is this truly Ann Cole? Just in case there's that nagging doubt still in your mind, I received something that removes all doubt. Allen Ramsey, Assistant State Archivist of the Connecticut State Library, sent me the prison history for Cynthia Coleman, from June 11, 1962 through September 26, 1967. The entry for June 10, 1967 says:

Paroled c/o mother Mrs. Carrie Coleman, 115 Mapes Avenue, Newark, New Jersey.

However, the parole didn't work out and the next entry shows that she was returned to the State Jail in Hartford on September 7, 1967.

But she did it again! She was being taken to McCook Hospital, from the Hartford State Jail, when she escaped on September 26. Unfortunately, that was the last entry in their files, so I don't know if she was recaptured and, if so, how much longer she was incarcerated. For what it's worth, she told Social Security she was born January 29, 1934, but the State Of Connecticut has her birthday as January 24.

Although he raved about her voice, Sol Rabinowitz was quoted as saying "She was a difficult human being". When Marcia Vance and I interviewed Sol in March 1975, he only mentioned Ann Cole as one of his artists, in connection with "Got My Mo-Jo Working" and "In The Chapel". He said nothing about her personally, either good or bad.

I spoke to Harold Winley, bass of the Clovers, who appeared with Ann on a couple of occasions. He remembered her as being a "tough persona", who was a "little rougher" than most of the female singers around.

This is not the way I generally end my articles.

Special thanks to John Broven. I made extensive use of his article, "Sol Rabinowitz's Baton Records", by John Broven, with Richard Tapp (based on a 2010 interview), which appeared in Juke Blues #72 (late 2012).


101 Old Ship Of Zion (Part 1) / Old Ship Of Zion (Part 2) - 53
102 Joy In The Prayer Room / Somebody Saved Me - 1/54
103 I'll Fly Away / When The Pearly Gates Unfold - 4/54
105 Be Ready When He Comes / Out On The Ocean Sailing - 54

APOLLO (Timely masters)
308 This May Be My Last Time / I Cannot Understand It - 2/57


RECORD SPECIALITIES (Ann Cole & Her 3 Kings; an Indianapolis label)
624/625 The Fishin' Song / Adam Had 'Em - 8/47

VARGO (Ann Cole & Her 3 Kings; a Michigan label)
29021 The Fishin' Song / Adam Had 'Em - 8/47


TIMELY (Ann Cole)
1006 Danny Boy / Smilin' Through - 4/54
1007 I'll Find A Way / Oh Love Of Mine - 6/54 (label says "Anne Cole")
1010 So Proud Of You / Down In The Valley - 11/54
1012 Since I Fell For You / Then You Taught Me How To Cry - 55

MOR-PLAY (Ann Cole, with the Claudiettes)
701 Please Forgive Me / I Want To Be A Big Girl - 55

BATON (Ann Cole)
218 Are You Satisfied? / Darling, Don't Hurt Me - 11/55
224 New Love / Easy, Easy, Baby - 3/56
229 I'm Waiting For You / My Tearful Heart - 8/56
232 In The Chapel / Each Day - 10/56
            (above two songs with The Suburbans)
237 Got My Mo-Jo Working (But It Just Won't Work On You) / I've Got A Little Boy - 3/57
            ("Mo-Jo" with The Suburbans)
243 No Star Is Lost / You're Mine - 5/57
247 Give Me Love Or Nothing / I've Got Nothing Working Now (But My Real Old Fashioned Love) - 9/57
258 The Love In My Heart / Summer Nights - 7/58

      The Clock Of Love

APT (Clarence Samuels, with uncredited Ann Cole)
25028 Without You / [We're Goin' To The Hop - Clarence Samuels] - 1/59

SIR (Ann Cole)
272 Nobody But Me / That's Enough - 9/59
275 A Love Of My Own / Brand New House - 5/60

M-G-M (Ann Cole)
12954 In The Chapel / Plain As The Nose On Your Face - 10/60

APOLLO (Cynthia Coleman - both were originally released by "Ann Cole" on Timely in 1954)
752 Oh Love Of Mine / Smilin' Through - 4/61

4452 Have Fun / Don't Stop The Wedding - 9/62

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