#WomensHistoryMonth: Cora “Lovie” Austin – 1920s Jazz and Blues Pianist, Composer and Bandleader (LISTEN)

todayApril 1, 2022 2

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by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (@lakinhutcherson)

As #WomensHistoryMonth comes to a close, today in our Daily Drop podcast, we spotlight Chicago-based blues and jazz pianist Cora “Lovie” Austin.

Austin isn’t well known now, but in her day she was a well-regarded bandleader and composer and one of the best accompanists around.

Austin played with singers such as Ma Rainey, Alberta Hunter, Bessie Smith, and Ethel Waters and musicians such as Louis Armstrong, lead her band the Blues Serenaders, and held down her spot as musical director at Chicago’s Monogram Theater for over 20 years:

You can follow or subscribe to the Good Black News Daily Drop Podcast through Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or create your own RSS Feed. Or just check it out every day here on the main website (transcript below):


Hey, this Lori Lakin Hutcherson, founder and editor in chief of, a little stuffed up, but here to share with you a daily drop of Good Black News for Wednesday, March 30th, 2022, based on the “A Year of Good Black News Page-A-Day Calendar” published by Workman Publishing.

Cora “Lovie” Austin did two incredibly rare things for a Black woman born in 1887: she studied formal music theory in college, then used that knowledge to gig the vaudeville circuit as a blues and jazz pianist!

Austin played with singers such as Ma Rainey, Alberta Hunter and Ethel Waters and was known as one of the best accompanists of her time.

She also led her own band, the Blues Serenaders, which played with top musicians like Louis Armstrong, and co-wrote the blues standard “Down Hearted Blues.”

[Excerpt from “Down Hearted Blues”]

Austin also composed and performed lively early jazz songs such as “Charleston Mad” and “Traveling Blues”:

[Excerpt of “Traveling Blues”]

Early in her career, Austin settled in Chicago, ultimately serving as musical director for Chicago’s Monogram Theater for over 20 years. In 1961, Austin  reunited with Alberta Hunter and the Blues Serenaders to record an album as part of Riverside Records Living Legends series entitled Chicago: The Living Legends (Live).

To learn more about Lovie Austin, stream or purchase her music on Apple Music or Amazon Music, or stream on Spotify, and check out the links to sources provided in today’s show notes or in the episode’s full transcript posted on 

This has been a daily drop of Good Black News, based on the “A Year of Good Black News Page-A-Day Calendar for 2022,” published by Workman Publishing.

Beats provided by and produced by White Hot. Excerpts of music by Lovie Austin are included under fair use.

If you like these Daily Drops, please consider following us on Apple, Google Podcasts,,Amazon, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. Leave a rating or review, share links to your favorite episodes, or go old school and tell a friend.

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Written by: Gnoumaya Editor

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