Boswell's older sisters Martha and Connie were both born in Kansas City, Missouri. The family moved to Birmingham between 1907 and 1911, when Helvetia was born, and then relocated to a house on Camp Street in uptown New Orleans, Louisiana not long after.
As young teenagers the trio began performing as instrumentalists on New Orleans radio programs and in local theaters. Vet studied violin under Otto Finck and her stage debut was in the Passion Play Veronica's Veil. She also played banjo and guitar with her sisters Martha on piano and Connie on cello, saxophone and guitar. Though she was the youngest, Vet was known as the shyest and most disciplined member of the group, but also had a sharp, dry wit.
Their first recordings, for Victor Records, were made in 1925. It was after they moved their act to New York City in 1930, however, that they rose to national prominence. Their national radio broadcasts were accompanied by recording contracts from Okeh, Brunswick and Decca. They sang big-band arrangements by Glenn Miller and others while being accompanied by legendary musicians such as the Dorsey Brothers, Benny Goodman, Bunny Berigan, Eddie Lang, Manny Klein and Joe Venuti. In many cases they were allowed to make sweeping changes to tunes already made popular by others. Their first hit song was Groucho Marx's "When I Take My Sugar to Tea" from the film Monkey Business. Their biggest hit was the 1935 song "The Object of My Affection" from the film Times Square Lady.
The trio recorded their last songs together on February 12, 1936 before Vet and Martha left to settle down. Vet married John Paul Jones on July 3, 1935. Connie, confined to a wheelchair since childhood, continued a solo career on Decca, changing the spelling of her name to Connee. Their sound influenced the next generation of jazz vocalists. The Andrews Sisters got their start as imitators of the Boswells. Ella Fitzgerald patterned her singing after Connie's style.
Vet and John Paul moved to Canada and had 1 child, Vet Boswell Jones, born August 22, 1936. The couple returned to New York after John Paul's retirement and remained together until his death in 1958. Vet participated in a 1980s revival of the Boswell Sisters act called Heebie Jeebies. She died in 1988 of a heart attack.
The Boswell Sisters were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 1998.
- "Boswell Sisters." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 12 Nov 2007, 00:33 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 15 Nov 2007 .