Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Blue Smoke Drifts By...

Pixie Williams, singer of the Kiwi classic Blue Smoke, has "drifted by into the deep blue sky": she died last Friday, aged 85.
Pikiteora Maude Emily Gertrude Edith Williams was born in 1928 in northern Hawke's Bay. Her parents died young and, in 1945, she shifted to Wellington and into the YWCA Hostel in Oriental Parade. There, her beautiful voice came to the attention of 28th Maori Battalion veteran Ruru Karaitiana, who was looking for a singer to bring his song Blue Smoke to life.
Karaitiana composed the song while on a troop ship in 1940. It was popular at troop concerts long before it was recorded in 1949 by Pixie Williams and the Ruru Karaitiana Quintette at the Radio Corporation's Columbus Recording Studio in Wellington.
Blue Smoke, sung by Williams, was the first record wholly processed and recorded in New Zealand. It was a huge hit, topping the charts for six weeks and selling 50,000 copies (despite having been rejected by London music publishers). Dean Martin was one of several international artists who covered it.
Pixie couldn't read music but taught herself to play guitar, ukulele, the banjo and piano accordion. Her promising singing career however eventually took a back seat to married life and raising four children. Later, at 73, Pixie decided to teach herself the organ...for something to do.
In 2011, a Pixie Williams CD collection of 13 songs was released. After the launch, The Recording Industry Association of NZ presented Pixie with a Triple Platinum Award for Blue Smoke.
"Music - it's what keeps you going through good times and bad.
When you've got music in your life, you'll be ok."
Pixie Williams (1928-2013)

1 comment:

Tiki said...

Shame Pixie never reached her full potential. Her voice was very clear.