Published: 24 May 2010 02:30 AM
Updated: 26 November 2010 02:47 PM
The North Texas native had performed across the country with all sorts of bands. She was singing with Benny Goodman, the King of Swing, whose songs became chart-toppers.
In the late 1930s and early ’40s, her jazzy voice was on the radio, and her picture was in the papers. Movie executives were reaching out to her.
But her husband, Harry James, the famous big-band musician, wanted her to stop singing.
So the songstress walked away from it all.
She got pregnant. She had one son and then another. She was focused on her husband’s blossoming career. Then, in 1943, James wanted a divorce. He left her for Betty Grable, the actress and World War II-era pin-up. The news generated headlines across the country.
Tobin – born in Aubrey and raised in Denton – doesn’t let the divorce and the abrupt interruption of her career define her. She says she is just grateful to have sung jazz when jazz was hot.
“I feel like that was a real era of contribution to the culture of the world,” said Tobin, now 91.
“It’s truly melodic. Beautiful music.”
Years later, after exiting the singing spotlight, Tobin would return to her jazz roots.
And she would fall in love again, this time with Peanuts Hucko, another famous musician.
She never lost her love of jazz and the ability to improvise, be loose with the notes and sing harmony.
“Jazz, it’s freedom,” she said.