Piano-tinkling chanteuses were quite the rage during the war years. But Camille Howard
's two-fisted thundering boogie style, much like her Los Angeles contemporary, Hadda Brooks
, was undoubtedly the equivalent of any 88s ace, male or female. Howard
was part of the great migration from Texas to the West Coast. She was installed as pianist with drummer Roy Milton & the Solid Senders
sometime during World War II, playing on all their early hits for Art Rupe
's Juke Box and Specialty labels (notably the groundbreaking "R.M. Blues" in 1945).
Sensing her potential following the success of Milton
's 1947 hit "Thrill Me" (with Howard
's vocal), Rupe
began recording her as a featured artist at the end of the year. Legend has it that Howard
's biggest hit, the roaring instrumental "X-Temporaneous Boogie," was improvised at the tail-end of her first date as a leader (its flip, the torch ballad "You Don't Love Me," was a hit in its own right). Howard
's vocal abilities were pretty potent too. Her "Fiesta in Old Mexico" was a hit in 1949, while "Money Blues," credited to Camille Howard & Her Boyfriends
, registered strong coin in 1951. Howard
cranked out storming boogies and sultry ballads for Specialty through 1953, then jumped from Federal to Vee-Jay before landing in Los Angeles for good. Howard
's strong religious ties put a stop to her secular music career long ago.