Vocalist and one-time Miss Alabama who released a few solo records but made her reputation on her contributions as a background singer. She was a member of The Randy Van Horne Singers, which sang the themes to The Flintstones and The Jetsons, and made regular appearances on Nat King Cole’s TV show. In the early ‘60s, Betty Jane dubbed Nancy Kwan’s singing voice in Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Flower Drum Song.
In 1964, she and then-husband Barney Kessel launched Emerald Records. A year later, their newly formed label released Barney’s On Fire LP and B.J. released one of her handful of solo 45s, “Have a Happy Day.” Her other solo efforts would include “I Enjoy Being A Girl” and “Anywhere”, which was featured on the soundtrack of the Raymond Burr police drama, Ironside. In 1967, they opened Barney Kessel’s Music World. This was where The Association acquired the bass guitar that is featured on the first famous notes of their chart-topping “Windy”. Barney and B.J. were eventually divorced in 1980.
B.J. was also married to Buddy Baker and Mickey Rooney, and appears on Mickey Rooney, Jr.’s 1978 release, Crazy Ideas.
Other artists and groups with whom she worked included The Anita Kerr Singers, Johnny Cash, Sam Cooke, Bobby Darin, Duane Eddy, Esquivel, Stan Kenton, Dean Martin, Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, Lloyd Price, The Ray Conniff Singers, The Righteous Brothers, Frank Sinatra, Phil Spector, Joe Williams, and Jackie Wilson.
She passed away on 2nd April 2002 after suffering a stroke.
Her musical legacy lives on in the digital era: As recently as 2007, The Anita Kerr Singers’ Sounds was released on compact disc.
Here’s B.J. dubbing Nancy Kwan in “I Enjoy Being a Girl” from Flower Drum Song…