The all-women jazz orchestra The Darlinettes have been promoted by UNCG Archives over the years, as they’ve collected and preserved the group’s artifacts and information. UNCG alumni publications and UNCG News have featured them as well.

Saturday, a national audience of NPR listeners heard all about them – and relived the swing-era sounds of the UNCG student ensemble.

In the 1940s, a group of trail-blazing young women at Woman’s College (now UNCG) started their own swing band, The Darlinettes, rehearsing in the basement of Brown Building in secret, according to an archived news piece.

They played for campus dances, USO dances and gigs at army camps in Greensboro and at Fort Bragg.

The all-female band was a rarity for the time.

The Darlinettes worked with the (then) UNCG School of Music more than a decade ago to establish an artist-in-residence program to bring respected jazz artists, especially women, to campus to perform and teach for periods of two to three weeks. It would become the jazz program’s first “bona fide” artist-in-residence program, according to the release.

The NPR report focused on keyboardist Doris Funderburk Morgan, an 89-year-old alumna of the group and of UNCG / Woman’s College, and on fellow alumna Jo Singletary Barbre, the drummer. Barbre explained that two nights a week, the Darlinettes would meet in secret and rehearse in a cramped basement practice room in Brown Building. Woman’s College women playing jazz at that point in history was a violation of norms, and she recalls the administration of that era never supported the musicians.

But their courage and love for the music are their legacy.

Listen to Saturday’s NPR feature, see some great pictures and listen to a song here.

Read an archived blog post on The Darlinettes by UNCG Archives.

Posted by Mike Harris