In 1929, American composer Johnny Green got together with lyricists Edward Heyman, Robert Sour, and Frank Eyton to write a number of songs for British actress Gertrude Lawrence to sing on the London stage. One of them, “Body and Soul,” was to become a jazz standard par excellence. Lawrence, to her credit, recognized the inherent merit of the song and bought a share in it before going on to introduce it on the London stage and sing it on the radio, where it was heard by British dance band greats Jack Hylton and Bert Ambrose. Their renditions caught the attention of the public and of bandleaders, singers, and instrumentalists alike. After a spring fever of “Body and Soul” in London, recording of the infectious tune subsided for the summer and then resurged in America. In mid-October the song appeared as part of the Broadway revue Three’s a Crowd and was performed and later recorded by Libby Holman.
“Body and Soul” was written in 1930 by Johnny Green, with lyrics by Edward Heyman, Robert Sour and Frank Eyton. The song was originally written for Gertrude Lawrence, the British actress and singer. It was introduced in the United States in 1930 in a Broadway revue called Three’s a Crowd.
Born on March 27, 1924, the daughter of a carpented and a launderess who sang in the church choir, her career started after winning an amateur night performance at Harlem’s Zeus Theater singing Body and Soul, the popular jazz standard with lyrics by Edward Heyman and Frank Eyton and music by Johnny Green. Thus began her legendary career, which led her to opening for Ella Fitzgerald in 1943, and being introduced to bandleader and pianist Earl “Fatha” Hines, which subsequently led to her great success.