Linda Hopkins first recordings


Linda Hopkins (RN: Malinda Helen Mathews, B: New Orleans, 1925) was in San Francisco when she recorded “Doggin’ Blues” and “Warning Blues,” and at about the time Little Esther had left Johnny Otis for the Federal label. Hopkins had already filled in for Little Esther on club dates where underage Esther was not allowed to perform.
“Little Esther was 13-years-old and at the time, I was 26,” Hopkins recalled. “She heard me singing at Slim Jenkins’ Nightclub in Oakland. She was headlining with the Johnny Otis band and had a big name. She sneaked into the cocktail evening show and demanded that Herman Lubinsky that she had heard this lady sing, ‘I want you to put this lady on record’.”

“I was doing Bessie Smith songs and making up my own songs. I was just starting in show business. I used to do a lot of church work in Richmond and I was used to handling kids in church, teaching them how to sing gospel songs. The church didn’t want me to be over the kids, so it turned me out. The deacon claimed he saw me in a club. It wasn’t so.”

“This disc jockey, Jumpin’ George Oxford noticed on a Sunday morning that there wasn’t no kids there to sing in their time slot on the radio. He inquired about it and that’s when I told him they had a board meeting and told me I wasn’t fit to work with kids.”

“He was very happy, told me to go on an audition at a nightclub, he and his wife took me to Slim Jenkins, whoever won first prize could sing with Helen Humes. Slim Jenkins heard me sing and just hired me and I worked my opening night with Helen Humes. Little Esther decided I was going to be Linda Hopkins, Malinda Helen Mathews wasn’t going to be my stage name.

“I never toured with Johnny Otis. He was the nicest man. I really wanted to tour with him, he treated me like a daughter.”

Leaving Savoy, Hopkins recorded “Get Off My Wagon” on Forecast, a label associated with Crystalette.


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