Jessie Mae Robinson and Rosemary Clooney

Who was Jessie Mae?

The doco is a portrait of the little known American songwriter Jessie Mae Robinson and a personal journey of recognition and acknowledgement by her great niece Malika Elizabeth, a musician herself who discovered her musical heritage by chance as a young woman growing up in Sydney. In this program she connects some of the fascinating threads in her great aunt's life and work and places her back where she belongs as a key songwriter and composer of the late 40s and 50s.

About the Show


Jessie Mae changed the musical landscape with her songs and by the time of her death in 1966 at just 47, she'd achieved extraordinary success as a composer with a significant number of songs on the Billboard hit parade of the 50s.

She wrote many hugely popular songs that were taken up by the leading artists of the day including Dinah Washington, T-Bone Walker, Elvis Presley, Muddy Waters, Nina Simone, Johnny Mathis, Sarah Vaughan, Patti Page, Judy Garland and Bing Crosby.

Broadcast Date

28 August 2010

Production Details

Narration and research: Malika Elizabeth

Script: Simon Luckhurst

Producers: Simon Luckhurst, Russell Stapleton and Cathy Peters

Sound engineer: Russell Stapleton

ABC site


Selected by the ABC as an entrant in the 2011 Prix Italia radio awards.


Jessie Mae Robinson

Jessie Mae Robinson

Sheet music for (Let's Have A) Party

Sheet music for I Went To Your Wedding