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Billy Eckstine


 Billy Eckstine: “Prisoner of Love”

Billy Eckstine – From the Great Billy Eckstine. An amazing singer, bandleader and entertainer.

William Clarence Eckstine (July 8, 1914 – March 8, 1993) was an American singer of ballads and a bandleader of the swing era. Eckstine’s smooth baritone and distinctive vibrato broke down barriers throughout the 1940s, first as leader of the original bop big-band, then as the first romantic black male in popular music. Eckstine’s recording of “I Apologize,” MGM Pop Single, (1948) was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999.

Eckstine’s grandparents were William F. Eckstein and Nannie Eckstein, a mixed-race, lawfully married couple who lived in Washington D.C.; both were born in the year 1863. William F. was born in Prussia and Nannie in Virginia. His parents were William Eckstein, a chauffeur and Charlotte Eckstein. He was born in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania a State Historical Marker is placed at 5913 Bryant St, Highland Park, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania to mark the house where he grew up.  Later moving to Washington, D.C., Eckstine began singing at the age of seven and entered many amateur talent shows. He attended Armstrong High School, St. Paul Normal and Industrial School, and Howard University.  He left Howard in 1933, after winning first place in an amateur talent contest.  He married his first wife, June, in 1942; she too was a vocalist. After their divorce he married actress and model Carolle Drake in 1953, and remained married until his death. He was the father of five children and two step children, including Ed Eckstine, who was a president of Mercury Records, Guy Eckstine, who was a Columbia and Verve Records A&R executive and record producer, and singer Gina Eckstine.

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