Mavis Rivers

Most New Zealand musicians can only dream about having a career like Mavis Rivers, whose extraordinary jazz voice took her from Western Samoa – via the nightclubs of late-1940s Auckland – to Hollywood and Las Vegas.

Her first 78rpm recordings for the fledgling Tanza and Stebbing labels would be followed by albums recorded for labels such as Capitol and Reprise. Ella Fitzgerald was her hero, and Rivers’s own voice was pure, and she delivered songs with subtlety, confidence, and swing.

Watch: Mavis Rivers and Friends - a 1985 TVNZ special
Mavis Rivers with Nancy Harrie, 1ZB Radio Theatre, Auckland, late 1940s. 
Photo credit: Grant Gillanders Collection
'So Rare' - Mavis Rivers' latest Capitol single gets a full page advertisement in Cashbox, 30 January 1960. 
Mavis Rivers with the Crombie Murdoch Trio during a television show in the NZBC studios in Shortland Street, Auckland, 1963. From left: Lester Still, Mavis Rivers, Crombie Murdoch, and Don Branch. Photo taken by Alton Francis.
Photo credit: Auckland Libraries Heritage Collections Footprints 02523
Take A Number, 1959, with Nelson Riddle
The sheet music for 'Fijian Holiday', a 1951 hit on the Tanza label for Mavis
Photo credit: Grant Gillanders Collection
There's A Small Hotel
Mavis Rivers Meets Shorty Rogers, from 1963
Mavis Rivers with Crombie Murdoch at the 1ZB Radio Theatre, Durham Lane West, Auckland. The band includes Frank Gibson Sr. on drums
Photo credit: Grant Gillanders Collection
October, 1951
Photo credit: Grant Gillanders Collection
Mavis Rivers and Red Norvo - Pennies From Heaven
Teach Me Tonight
The Simple Life, 1960
Mavis Rivers alongside a microphone, taken by an unknown freelance photographer in August, 1950
Photo credit: Ref: PAColl-6388-13. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand.
The 2013 compilation of the early New Zealand recorded Mavis Rivers 78s
Mavis Rivers in New Plymouth 1950, flanked by (in white suit) Bart Stokes and (at far right) band leader Fred Gore. 
Photo credit: Grant Gillanders Collection

Funded by

Partners with