Died: February 10, 1961, Freetown, Sierra Leone
American jazz vocalist, best known for her work with Louis Armstrong, she died in Freetown, Sierra Leone, during a tour with him.
She was originally a dancer and, although overweight, she often did splits on stage, even during her Armstrong years. Middleton had an average but pleasing and good-humored voice. After freelancing, including a visit to South America in 1938 with Connie McLean's Orchestra and performing as a solo act, she joined Louis Armstrong's big band in 1942, appearing on some Soundies with Satchmo.
After Armstrong broke up the orchestra in 1947, Middleton joined his All-Stars. She was often used for comic relief, such as for duets with Satchmo on "That's My Desire" and "Baby, It's Cold Outside", and she did occasional features. Few jazz critics thought highly of her singing, but Armstrong considered her part of his family, and she was a constant part of his show.
She recorded eight selections as a leader for the Dootone label, in 1948 and 1951.