Some time ago I found the music of Al Bowlly. Through, off all people, Richard Thomspon, whose song "Al Bowlly's In Heaven" made me wonder about the pre-war British dance band sound. I found Al, and was entranced. And as time passed, and I branched into new artists, I acquired a CD called "The Best of the British Dance Bands", released by Music & Memories (MMD 1007).
Some of this music was superlative, some bland. But no artists stood out as needing an extra listen. Except one. A song called "Woe is Me" had a sultry female voice credited to a Dinah Miller. Well, internet searching for Dinah produced nothing. No CDs of her were available, no mentions other than a few brief notes in histories of the 40s English music scene.
But I did find a posting on a geneology site. And e-mailed the author, who had received nothing in the years since her original posting. She is a relative of Dinah's and told me a few facts, which I present here, in case anyone else has found this same CD and wondered about this same artist. (The "I" in the following is my Australian contact.)
Diana, also known as Dinah, Miller was the only child of well-to-do parents. My mother and her ten siblings were brought up in poverty near the Lambeth Walk and all the family are working class Londoners. I find it interesting that someone, somewhere must have married 'up'. I think the connection was something to do with my grandfather's brother's wife. From what I remember being told, Diana's real name was Winnie, possibly Winnie Briggs. My mother knew Diana's mother, a black woman, as Aunt Winnie.
Diana won a talent contest when young, and managed to scrape together a career as a vocalist with several bands in the 30s. When the war came, she went first to Denmark, then Sweden, and seems to have remained there for the duration of the war. There were a number of 78s released in Sweden in the 40s with her as lead vocalist.
According to another source, Diana was the lover of the famous Swedish singer Ulla Billquist, who died in 1946. Diana returned to Copenhagen, and appears to have fronted an all-girl band there.
See another page about Diana Here.