Her name is Ida Maria Sands. She was known by her friends and relatives as “Little” Ida. As a recording artist, performer, and songwriter, Ida Sands was also known as Tidewater’s “Queen of Song,” actually voted so in 1968.
In an area loaded with talent, “Little” Ida began to rise towards the top of the pool early. She was a much sought after singer, gaining the interest of both local and national attention, from the small labels to the majors. Sands decided to center her emerging talents with Noah Biggs at Shiptown Records. There she became the main attraction, not only as a solo artist, but also teaming up with label mate Joe Webster in the dynamic duet team of The Soul Duo. Of course, there were also the Idettes.
As word and sound of Ida Sands spread, artist like James Brown tried to sign her away from Shiptown, but to no avail. Ida remained loyal, stayed with her home label, mentoring other artists on the label, teaching them how to sing, perform, and project a presence. Other Shiptown artists, like Al Glover, cite Ida Sands as one of their major influences.
Ida also worked with some of the area’s other top artists, like Norman Johnson, Gary U.S. Bonds, Jimmy Soul, and Jerry Williams, all who went on to international fame.
Ida Sands created a sensation with hits like, “ You Came Along to Rescue Me,” "Darling, I Understand," and the soulful, Christmas classic she recorded as a member of the Soul Duo, “Sad, Sad Christmas.”
Ida Sands has consistently been involved in other aspects of the community and the entertainment business. She has performed and sponsored benefits, hosted pageants, taped shows for the troops stationed in Vietnam, been responsible for bringing high profile guests to the area and promoting the music and artists of this area. In 1988, Norfolk's Mayor Roy B. Martin Jr., personally crowned Miss Ida Sands in the appropriate royal regalia.
Ida Sands, a local legend with national appeal and international recognition.
A classic recording.
Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones
Matilda Sissieretta Joyner Jones was born in 1868 or 1869 in Portsmouth, Virginia to minister Jeremiah Joyner and one of the choir singers, Henrietta Beale. Matilda became internationally known as Black Patti (to differentiate between another opera star, the Italian prima donna, Adelina Patti). Jones performed in opera houses and on the vaudeville stage throughout her career, and her success there helped African Americans gain acceptance as serious artists.
In 1892, she performed at the White House for President Benjamin Harrison and in London before the Prince of Wales. Jones returned to the White House to appear before Presidents Grover Cleveland, William McKinley, and Theodore Roosevelt.
In the 1890s, Jones formed her own group, the Black Patti’s Troubadours, which helped launch the careers of other top artists, like Bert Williams.