Blanche Calloway Jones, 76, the sister of bandleader "Cab" Calloway and the firstwoman to lead a major American dance band, died Saturday at the Deaton Medical Center here after an extended illness.
Born in Baltimore, Mrs. Jones left in the 1920s to begin her stage career.
The fabled queen of "Hi-De-Ho," she starred in "Shuffling Along" and sang in New York with the Earl (Fatha) Hines and Louis Armstrong bands and briefly with Duke Ellington's band. Her two best known songs in the 1920s were "Rhythm in the River" and "I Need Loving."
Her brother joined her in the 1930s and it was while she was singing with Cab that she got an opportunity to lead her own band. The 20-piece band was called "Blanche Calloway and the 12 Clouds of Joy." Their theme was "Growin' Dan."
She retired from the stage in 1944 but later became the first woman disc jockey in the South while she was living in Miami.
Mrs. Jones also was the founder and president of Afram House, Inc., a cosmetics firm, which was the first major black-owned and operated mail order company.
Mrs. Jones was active in the Philadelphia chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People until she returned to her hometown six years ago.
Survivors include three brothers and two sisters.