Why is Labor Day celebrated?

We all love that day off from school or work, that long weekend to go to the lake house, have a barbeque and visit with relatives, but let’s face it, most of us don’t really know why Labor Day is celebrated, or the history behind the holiday.

Labor Day, which is celebrated on the first Monday in September, honors and recognizes the American labor movement and the role of laborers in the development and achievements of the country. The holiday originated in the late 1800s, after the Industrial Revolution, when trade unions were growing steadily. Unionists thought that there should be a day to recognize labor, so the first parade was organized in New York City, and it became an official holiday in 1894.

You may be wondering, what kind of music did people listen to back then, in the late 19th century? Well, we’ve compiled a short list of historical tunes that are sure to impress your friends and family at your Labor Day celebration!

I’ve Been Working on the Railroad – 1894

With its lyrics about rising early in the morn to go work on the railroad, this American folk song embodies the spirit and history of Labor Day. Railroading was a career that many young men took up at around age 18 to 20. They began as shop laborers with the possibility of being promoted to the positions of skilled mechanic, brakeman, freight conductor and passenger conductor. And not only did the explosion of railways create jobs, but it also transformed many sectors of the U.S. economy, such as manufacturing, agriculture, and finance. 

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot – 1872

This African American spiritual song was originally composed in 1865 by Wallis Willis, a Choctaw freedman, who had probably been inspired by the sight of the Red River, where he worked alongside. The river may have reminded him of the Jordan River and the Prophet Elijah, which are referenced in the song.

A minister at the Choctaw boarding school heard Willis singing the song, so he transcribed the lyrics and melodies, and sent it to the Jubilee Singers of the historically black Fisk University in Nashville, who popularized the song in the early 1900s.

While Strolling Through the Park One Day – 1884

Originally written and published by vaudeville performer Ed Haley, this tune has been featured in many films and was sung by Judy Garland. Interestingly enough, a few bars were also sung by the NASA astronauts when they landed on the moon with the Apollo 17 mission. I was strolling on the moon one day…” 

Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue – Janis Siegel, John Di Martino & Lonnie Plaxico

The oldies are neat and everything, but after the novelty wears off, they’re probably not the type of music you want to listen to for hours on end. After the collective ride down American memory lane, maybe it’s time to change the playlist up and play something a bit more modern, like this 2020 jazz rendition of Crystal Gayle’s country hit!

If you’re looking for more jazzy country tunes to play at your Labor Day party, our new album Cryin’ In My Whiskey is available in our store and on all major music platforms now. And if you’d like to book one of our wonderful musicians for your event, please contact us today. 

Happy Mother’s Day! – 5 Jazz Songs to Warm Mom’s Heart

Are you feeling bombarded and overwhelmed by all of the advertisements for Mother’s Day gifts and flowers? Do you still not have a gift idea for mom? Maybe you weren’t able to visit with mom last year, due to concerns about COVID-19, and you want to make sure Mother’s Day 2021 is extra special. 

Well, don’t worry because sometimes it’s the simplest gifts that leave the longest lasting memories. Sometimes it’s about creating that perfect ambience by playing just the right songs. The songs that’ll speak to mom’s heart, get her eyes watering and her toes tapping.

Etta James – Tell Mama

This 1967 hit song still rocks out today! Etta James’s deep, powerful and gutsy vocals let you know that mama really is always on your side and always has your back, no matter what. This song is sure to get your Mother’s Day off to a groovy start! 

WJ3 All Stars – I’ve Never Been in Love Before

The jazz standard from 1950—recorded by stars like Bing Crosby, Doris Day and Chet Baker—has been brought back to life in this vivid rendition from Willie Jones III and his All-Stars! Whether this is the first time your mom is hearing this song, or if it’s a tune she knows and loves, the soft melody, saxophone and piano are sure to create a lovely atmosphere for chatting and reminiscing.

The Shirelles – Mama Said

This lively, poppy 1961 hit is a fun ode to all the moms out there who have given their children those unforgettable words of wisdom. And did you know that The Shirelles, famous for their rhythm & blues, doo-wop and soul music, are credited with the launch of the girl group genre? All I know is that I don’t worry ‘cause Mama said there’ll be days like this…

Gregory Porter – Mother’s Song

You probably recognize Gregory Porter from his albums, Liquid Spirit and Tame to the Alley, both of which won Grammys for Best Jazz Vocal Album, but I bet you haven’t heard this song from his 2012 album! Porter’s mellow and uplifting sound will make your mother feel cherished on her special day. Listen and gather ‘round me children, children of a mother whose life lifted up peace, a mother who taught all of her children to love and be loved by each other…

Lorca Hart Trio – Bye Ya

If your mom is anything like my mom, saying goodbye is an ordeal, an event, a process in which one gets initiated into another conversation, and gets just one more hug, before finally walking out the door. So, this Mother’s Day, say goodbye with a bang! “Bye Ya” comes from Lorca Hart Trio’s newest album Colors of Jazz. The swinging, upbeat tune represents the color orange and evokes the image of a jolly band leading a parade down a cobblestone street. Everyone is dancing merrily and marching happily to the beat of the drum solo. A cheering crowd lines the street, pressing together to watch the musicians pass, waving and laughing. Giggling children chase each other through the sea of legs. Now, that, to me, really sounds like the proper way to say goodbye to mom!

And if your mom is a lover of jazz music, you may want to browse around our store for some great gift ideas! “Colors of Jazz” and WJ3 All-Star’s album “Lover and Love Songs” are both available in our store right now, along with many other albums that’ll bring a bright smile to mom’s face. Or if you would like to book one of our lovely musicians for your Mother’s Day, please contact us today. 

April Showers Bring May Flowers – 5 Rainy Day Songs

Just because it’s raining outside doesn’t mean that your mood has to be dreary and dark. Remember, April showers bring May flowers! Sometimes, a tough, gloomy period is watering the very seeds that’ll sprout and grow into something beautiful and joyous in the future, so go get yourself a nice warm cup of tea, snuggle up and listen to these lovely tunes on your rainy April day! 

Elvis – Pocketful of Rainbows

We all know and love the King of Rock and Roll, but have you ever listened to his lesser-known gem of a song, “Pocketful of Rainbows”? Released in 1960, this slower-paced tune is perfect for a rainy day inside. Like Elvis sings so beautifully, we need not worry whenever skies are gray above because we have a pocketful of rainbows and a heart full of love.

Otis Redding – Cigarettes and Coffee

From his 1966 “The Soul Album,” this song is a poignant meditation from the perspective of a man lingering in the early morning, sittin’ here talkin’ with my baby. The protagonist is in absolutely no rush to get started with his day. He sings to his darling about how grateful he is that she’s in his life, and how grateful he is for this simple moment together: I’ve known nothing but good old joy since I met you… I would love to have another drink of coffee, now, and please, darling, help me smoke this one more cigarette. 

Lorca Hart Trio – Dew Drop

As the Lorca Hart Trio proves in this wonderful jazz song, released in 2020, a drop of dew can be oh so delicate, beautiful and precious. Slow down and notice the dew drops outside all around you, on flowers, leaves, branches. A dew drop is in no hurry to go anywhere, it just exists in that very moment, which is exactly what you can do on this drizzly day. 

Etta James – A Sunday Kind of Love

I don’t know about you, but this song is a staple on my rainy Sunday morning playlist. Etta James’s powerful voice and the clever lyrics in this 1960 tune just soften and warm my heart into butter. But did you know that Etta James was not the first artist to release this song? It was actually composed by Barbara Belle, Anita Leonard, Stan Rhodes and Louis Prima and published in 1946. Many musicians like Fran Warren, Ella Fitzgerald and The Del Vikings came out with versions of this beloved song.

WJ3 All Stars – First Time I Saw Your Face

This slow, smooth song from WJ3 All Stars’ newest album, “Lovers & Love Songs” will have you reminiscing on the very first time that you ever met your darling—the twinkling in his or her eyes, the dimples on the cheeks and the smile that stole your heart forever. This song is perfect for cuddling up next to your loved one and savoring all those sweet memories you have together. 

If you’re looking for more soft jazz songs to keep you nice and cozy during all the rainy days this April, I would recommend the WJ3 All Stars’ album “Lovers & Love Songs” and the Lorca Hart Trio’s “Colors of Jazz.” Both are available in our store right now and on all major music platforms!