Pauline Braddy

Hailed as the “Queen of the Drums,” Pauline Braddy’s driving and impressive drumming provided the pulse for the International Sweethearts of Rhythm from 1939 until the group disbanded. She was considered to be one of the stand-out players in that already impressive band. [1]

Pauline was born in Mendenhall, Mississippi and attended Piney Woods Country Life School (where the Sweethearts of Rhythm were formed) and first played clarinet until the drummer dropped out and she was asked to step in due to her strong sense of rhythm. Pauline explained to author Sally Placksin in her book Jazzwomen, “We weren’t supposed to have [jazz albums], ’cause [Piney Woods] was a religious school.” [2] But, play jazz they did, and they did it at the highest level!

The band did a USO tour in 1945 and music historian, Sherrie Tucker writes that “Chorus after chorus, Braddy’s drums draw shouts of applause at every new configuration of paradiddles.” [3] Francis Davis in The Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that the band was “powered by Pauline Braddy’s drumming.” A critic for the Chicago Defender said, “This young swing drummer is one of the reasons why the International Sweethearts of Rhythm is by far the most popular girls’ orchestra in the country today.” [4] After the Sweethearts disbanded, Pauline played in small groups in New York, including Vi Burnside’s All-Stars.

Here are a couple of great recordings that feature her superb drumming:

Pauline Braddy drumming with the International Sweethearts of Rhythm


[1] Wikipedia contributors, “Pauline Braddy,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed January 9, 2019).

[2] Sally Placksin, American Women in Jazz 1900 to the Present. (New York: Seaview Books, 1982).

[3]  Sherrie Tucker, Swing Shift: “All-Girl” Bands of the 1940s. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2000).

[4] Sonja Patterson. Bust Magazine. April/May 2013. (


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