The Chordettes, founded in Sheboygan in 1946, made some unforgettable contributions to the American pop culture lexicon. The vocal quartet was one of the most popular harmony acts of its era and consistently reached the charts in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Their biggest hits remain recognizable across generations more than 50 years later.
The Chordettes hit their pinnacle with the 1954 hit, “Mr. Sandman.” The single rocketed to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Four years later, their hit single “Lollipop” peaked in Billboard’s number 2 slot.
The Chordettes formed among college friends and reached a national audience after becoming regulars on Arthur Godfrey’s television show.
The original Chordettes were Jinny Osborn, Janet Ertel, Alice Mae Buschmann, and Dorothy Schwartz. Carol Buschmann replaced Alice Mae in 1947. Lynn Evans, Margie Latzko and Nancy Overton were later part of the group. The women were far from two-hit wonders. The Chordettes, who often sang a cappella and were renowned for their barbershop harmonies, had sustaining power and reached the Top 100 with 13 songs from 1954 through 1961.
They’re a part of pop culture history, having appeared on the very first episode of American Bandstand that was broadcast to a nationwide audience.
The Chordettes were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001. “Mr Sandman” was placed in the Grammy Hall of Fame the following year.
Paul Cebar might be one of the first names to come to mind at the mention of Milwaukee music.
From bars to festivals and stages in between, Cebar enters the WAMI Hall of Fame having been a staple of its music scene for decades. Moreover, the songwriter, guitarist and bandleader has been an ambassador for his hometown.
He’s brought his own unique recipe for the rhythm and blues -- one flavored by New Orleans, Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America -- well beyond the Dairyland’s borders. His band, The Milwaukeeans, had its name on marquees across the country.
Cebar spent his college years in Florida and took a shot in New York, though came to find there’s no place like home. He emerged from the coffeehouse folk scene of the 1970s to find success with the R&B Cadets. He went on to front Paul Cebar and The Milwaukeeans. His musical exploration presses on with Paul Cebar Tomorrow Sound.
Though Cebar has kept beneath the radar on the national scene, he’s a musician’s musician who’s built a fan base that includes the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Nick Lowe, Chris Smither, John Hiatt and Cesar Rosas.
Crowds today, as they could for decades, can expect to find a sound that’s funky, soul-filled and get-out-of-your-chairs danceable.
Realm unleashed a sound that was ahead of its time and not long before the heavy metal dominance of that era came crashing to a close.
Realm’s pioneering, progressive thrash -- aggressive, technical, precise, yet ever melodic -- broke free from Milwaukee’s metal underground and garnered national attention in the late 1980s.
Formed in 1985, Realm found fast success in the thrash metal subgenre.
They put out a five-song original demo in their first year and found themselves opening for Megadeth. In 1988, they signed with Roadrunner Records, the era’s preeminent label in the death and thrash metal genres.
Realm -- made up of Mark Antoni, Paul Laganowski, Takis Kinis, Steve Post and Mike Olson -- recorded their debut album, “Endless War” in August and September of 1988. In spring 1989, they embarked on their first US tour and gained airplay with their speed metal cover of The Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby.”
Realm’s second album, “Suiciety,” was released in 1992 -- and just as grunge swept over the musical landscape. Realm disbanded in the following year.
The band set forth with a goal to create music that was heavy, futuristic and complicated in simple sort of way. Metal fans haven’t forgotten their contributions.
Sadly, guitarist Paul Laganowski passed away in 2017 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Realm reunited on the occasion of their WAMI Hall of Fame induction.