Biographical / Historical
The International Sweethearts of Rhythm were a racially and ethnically mixed swing band, all of whose members were women. They were organized in 1937 by Laurence Clifton Jones, who started the Piney Woods School near Jackson, Mississippi. He formed the band from students at Piney Woods and the band toured to raise money for the school, performing at fairs, dance halls, churches, and theaters. In 1939, the band began to tour outside of Mississippi and traveled across the American South and Midwest. In 1941 they separated from Piney Woods, started out on their own as professional musicians and relocated to Arlington, Virginia. While in Arlington, the band recruited professional musicians to replace the underage students who stayed in school. The band's venues included the Apollo Theatre and Savoy Ballroom in New York and the Howard Theatre in Washington DC They performed frequently at military bases and were quite popular during World War II. In response to requests from GIs serving overseas, the Sweethearts undertook a six month tour of Europe starting in July 1945. The tour was supported by the United Service Organization (USO) Camp Shows. The band played in Paris, France and throughout Germany, including the cities of Heidelberg, Stuttgart, Munich, and Mannheim. The group disbanded in 1949, but reunited for a reunion in 1980 at the Third Annual Women's Jazz Festival in Kansas City.
Rosalin Cron was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1925 and began playing music at nine years old. She joined the band in 1943 and primarly played the alto saxophone, but was also trained to play the clarinet and flute. Cron was a part of the overseas tour. She was with the band until 1946. Dixie Hardy Moon is the niece of founder Laurence Clifton Jones. Catherine (Cathy) Hughes, was born in 1947 in Omaha, Nebraska. She is the granddaughter of founder Laurence Clifton Jones and her mother, Helen Jones Woods (1923-2020), played the trombone with the Sweethearts. Hughes is considered a media pioneer and founder of Radio One/TV One.