The Four Clefs
were a group based in Chicago consisting of drummer/vibraphonist William Marshall, pianist James Marshall, guitarist Johnny "Happy" Green, and bassist Melvin "Chappie" Chapman. All four of them sang, though William Marshall was the lead singer and some of their records feature Marshall as solo vocalist; still others are purely instrumental. Green was the group's leader and musical director; singer-pianist Martha Artis is shown in some of their late advertising, but it doesn't appear that she ever played or sang on their recordings. The Four Clefs
recorded for the Chicago division of RCA Victor's subsidiary Bluebird between 1939 and 1945 and their best-selling record was "Hiding All My Cares/"Blue Lude in C Sharp Major"; a slightly later, jive-styled instrumental, "Dig These Blues," is their best-known recording as far as posterity is concerned. Technically, the Four Clefs
are rhythm & blues artists, but what they played was a sort of mélange of entertainment styles; William Marshall's solo singing was influenced by Bing Crosby
, the group's singing is close-voiced in the style of the Ink Spots
, and the instrumentals are lightly swinging and uncomplicated.