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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Rex Garvin - Emulsified


Born circa 1937, New York City

Vocalist / pianist / arranger / songwriter / bandleader

The early musical career of Rex Garvin was entwined with that of his neighbour Zelma "Zell" Sanders from the Bronx. Being a black woman in the record business was definitely a handicap for Zell in a white, male-dominated industry in the 1950s. She was a hardworking entrepeneur and formidable matriarch who controlled the artists she managed with the tough love of a strict parent, sometimes fining or sacking them on the spot if they broke her rules. Sanders and Garvin were both very much involved with the Hearts, a group of young girls, formed in 1954, whose first record, "Lonely Nights" was placed with Sol Rabinowitz's Baton label in early 1955. It was an immediate hit (# 8 R&B), making the Hearts the second female group to have a song on the R&B charts, after Shirley Gunter and the Queens. The Hearts had no further hits, but continued to release singles until 1963. Garvin weathered the countless personnel changes in the group and remained their arranger and pianist, "mainly to meet girls", as Rex put it. He was more or less considered as a member of the group (the girls lovingly referred to him as "maestro") and appears on one of their promotion photos.

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