|Sutherland Apartments at 4659 South Drexel Blvd. formerly Sutherland Hotel|
which housed the Sutherland Show Lounge.
I worked in Chicago for the first time in 1956 with Rusty Bryant's band. Rusty was an Ohio boy who became popular back home playing tunes like "Castle Rock" and "Night Train". We were booked into the Crown Propeller Lounge on East 63rd Street. Paula Grier also worked there, along with a shake-dancer and a couple of other entertainers. The owner of the lounge insisted that when the girls finished their numbers on the raised stage behind the bar; they go out front to the bar and sit and drink with the customers. Paula told me the girls always did that. I didn't. After I had been working there a couple of nights the owner came up to me and told me to go and sit on a bar stool. I said I didn't care what the girls had always done. I told the owner I wouldn't do it; I had been hired by the band and the band paid me to sing and that was all I was going to do in the Propeller Lounge. That was the only really bad experience I had in Chicago.
I recorded my album for Capitol in December, 1959. It was "Like in Love", released April, 1960. Later that year I played the Sutherland Show Lounge in Chicago at 47th and Drexel Boulevard with Cannonball Adderley and Flip Wilson. Disc jockies Sid McCoy and Daddy-O Daylie picked up my album and gave it big play. Sid McCoy began to call me "Sweet Nancy". These two disc jockies really made it happen for me. Later a fellow in Los Angeles named Johnny Mangus, who was considered one of the most knowledgeable record spinners in the country, picked up the Nancy beat on the West Coast. I had national recognition. Mangus was almost embarrassing. He said, "Nancy is singularly the most important singer of the decade. She can lift a song off the printed page and groove it to her own identity. She has broken a sound barrier and made a success of pure talent."
Chicago is my number one city. Sales were broken here for my first album and this town still leads the country, as it has for twenty years, in sales of my records. I don't want to sound like the Chicago Chamber of Commerce, but I had to tell it like it is. Chicago has been wonderful. It's just great."