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Joe Williams annotated scores

Identifier: MP-0020-01


Joe Williams (1918-1999) was a celebrated vocalist known for his collaboration with the Count Basie Orchestra, as well as a successful solo career. The Joe Williams annotated scores collection is comprised of over thirty scores.


  • 1964
  • undated



0.9 Cubic Feet (2 boxes)

Language of Materials


Content Description

The collection consists of over thirty scores annotated in pen and pencil by jazz vocalist Joe Williams. While most of the scores are undated, the scores with dates all come from the period when Williams was performing as a solo artist. An inventory accompanying the original donation did not include "Everyday," and it is possible that this score was a later addition to the collection, yet still added prior to the collection's transfer to The New School Archives.

Arrangers' names are included in the collection inventory when identified in the score.

There is substantial overlap in song titles between this collection and the collection of Joe Williams's scores at the University of Idaho.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use. Please contact for appointment.

Conditions Governing Use

To publish images of material from this collection, permission must be obtained in writing from the New School Archives and Special Collections. Please contact:

Biographical note

Joe Williams (born 1918 in Cordele, Georgia, died 1999 in Las Vegas, Nevada) was an American jazz and blues singer. Born Joseph Goreed, he moved to Chicago at the age of three with his mother, Anne Beatrice Gilbert, and grandmother. At the age of fourteen, Williams formed a gospel quartet, the Jubilee Boys, which performed in local churches. Although he had been diagnosed with and treated for tuberculosis, by the age of sixteen Williams was singing for tips in a nightclub. Within a year, he was performing four nights a week with trumpeter Johnny Long’s orchestra, having dropped out of school and changed his name from Goreed. Additional club engagements followed, and in 1937 Williams joined jazz clarinetist Jimmie Noone’s band and was featured on its regular national CBS radio broadcast. In 1941, Williams toured with Coleman Hawkins and his band, and upon returning to Chicago, took a job as stage-door manager at the Regal Theatre, where he had the opportunity to meet influential artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Lionel Hampton, Cab Calloway, Duke Ellington, and Count Basie.

In 1943, Williams went on tour with Lionel Hampton, which provided his first experience of New York City, as well as the opportunity to perform with singer Dinah Washington. By 1946, Williams was touring with the band of Andy Kirk, with whom Williams made his recording debut in 1950. In 1954, orchestra leader Count Basie asked Williams to replace his departing lead singer, Jimmy Rushing. Rather than take on the songs that Rushing had been singing, Williams decided to perform his own repertoire, and in 1955, the Count Basie Orchestra released a new recording, Count Basie Swings, Joe Williams Sings. Williams’s rendition of Memphis Slim’s "Every Day I Have the Blues" was released as a single that year, and it became the band’s first hit in nearly fifteen years. In 1992, this recording of "Every Day" was entered into the Grammy Awards Hall of Fame.

Williams continued to record additional hits and to perform with the Count Basie Orchestra until 1961, when he embarked upon a solo career. Initially forming a group with former Basie Orchestra trumpeter Harry Edison, Williams later performed in trios led by pianists Norman Simmons and Junior Mance, both of whom were early faculty members of The New School’s BFA program in jazz, formed in 1986 (later, The New School College of the Performing Arts School of Jazz). Williams also collaborated in recording projects with Cannonball Adderley, George Shearing, and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra during this time. In 1965, Williams married his fourth wife, Jillean Milne Hughes-D’Aeth, a British citizen whom he had met in 1957. While Williams’s previous marriages were of short duration, he remained with Hughes-D’Aeth until his death in 1999.

During the sixties, seventies, and eighties Williams toured consistently and made frequent television appearances, including on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, as well as reuniting for performances with the Count Basie Orchestra. In 1983, Williams received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, placed next to Count Basie’s, and in the next year he sang at Basie’s funeral in New York City. Williams won a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance in 1984 for his album Nothin’ But the Blues, and in 1985 appeared in a recurring role on the popular television sitcom The Cosby Show. Williams was the recipient of two honorary doctorate of music degrees from Berklee School of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, and Hamilton College in Clinton, New York, both awarded in 1988.

Williams continued to tour and record albums into the 1990s. In March of 1999, he was hospitalized for a respiratory problem in Las Vegas and left the hospital on his own to walk home; Williams then collapsed and died at the age of 80.


“Artist List: Joe Williams.” Accessed March 23, 2021.

Bush, John. “Joe Williams, Biography.” Accessed March 23, 2021.

Course Catalogs. “Jazz and Contemporary Music.” College of Performing Arts Course Catalog Collection. 1986-1994. The New School Archives Digital Collections, New York, New York.

Hall, Devra. “Joe Williams: Every Day for 70 Years.” Billboard 100 no. 49 (December 3, 1988): J1, J10-13.

Heckman, Don. “Jazz Singer Joe Williams Dies after Collapsing in Las Vegas.” The Los Angeles Times, March 31, 1999.

“Joe Williams.” In Encyclopedia Britannica. Last updated May 7, 2007. Accessed March 23, 2021.

“Joe Williams, Vocalist: Bio.” National Endowment for the Arts. Accessed March 23, 2021.

Pareles, Jon. “Joe Williams, Jazz Singer of Soulful Tone and Timing, is Dead at 80.” The New York Times, March 31, 1999.

Weir, Bob. “Williams, Joe [Goreed, Joseph].” In Grove Music Online. Accessed March 23, 2021.

“Williams, Joe 1918–1999.” In Last updated May 21, 2018. Accessed March 29, 2021.


Arranged alphabetically by song title.

Custodial History

Jillean Williams, widow of Joe Williams, donated these scores to the School of Jazz and Contemporary Music at The New School in 2001.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Production and engineering coordinator for the School of Jazz, Christopher Hoffman, transferred these scores to the New School Archives in 2015.

Related Materials

The University of Idaho and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas both hold collections of Joe Williams's scores donated to those institutions by Jillean Williams in the early 2000s. Additionally, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas holds an oral history interview with Jillean Williams conducted in 2004.

Processing Information

Processed by Gino Romero.

Guide to the Joe Williams annotated scores
Jason Adamo and The New School Archives and Special Collections Staff
May 11, 2022
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