Who was/is Cecil Gant ? - CDs, Vinyl LPs, DVD and more
A natural-born candidate for any Army recruiting drive, Private Cecil Gant ambled up to a Los Angeles war bond rally in 1944 and asked if he could rattle the onstage ivories. Pvt. Gant was such a resounding hit that his musical services were requested for additional rallies. Even his commanding officer couldn't have anticipated the serviceman scoring a number one R&B smash the following year
Born April 4, 1913 in Nashville, Gant had a powerful way with a boogie and a mellow, introspective feel for singing blues ballads. One day he strolled into the studio of Leroy Hurte, who ran a small L.A. indie, Bronze Records, and asked if he could cut some sides. One of them was the brooding, nostalgic ballad I Wonder, which Hurte pressed up in the summer of '44. It took off enough locally to grab the attention of Gilt-Edge Records, which rushed Gant back into the studio to make a fresh version. That one paced the R&B charts in early '45 and made an impressive #20 pop impression, Gilt-Edge sub-billing Gant as 'The G.I. Sing-Sation.' Roosevelt Sykes' cover also went to #1; Woody Herman and Louis Armstrong waxed it, too.
Gant nailed several more hits during the '40s for Gilt-Edge, Bullet, and 4 Star, none making the seismic impression of I Wonder (his last, I'm A Good Man But A Poor Man, developed into a bit of a blues standard). Out of the service, the prolific Gant also had 78s out on King, Dot, Swing Time, and Imperial prior to achieving major label status in 1950 with Decca. His first session there was issued under the alias of Gunter Lee Carr, but Rock Little Baby, cut January 19, 1951 in New York with a combo that included an acidic lead guitarist, reverted to Cecil's original handle.
Only one more Decca date loomed in Gant's future late that year. An enthusiastic drinker who would down a few blasts in the studio to loosen up and then improvise fresh material right on the spot, the pianist died unexpectedly in early 1952, only 38 years of age.