on a gramophone that belonged to a clerk in the campus drugstore at Tuskegee Institute where his father taught. Wilson had his first breaks in professional music in the early 1930s playing in Chicago with bands led by Jimmie Noone
Hammond was behind the scenes everywhere in the 1930s, spotting unknown singers and musicians and pairing his favorites in concert dates and recording sessions. He soon adopted Teddy Wilson as one of his protégés. In 1935, Hammond brought two of his favorite ‘unknowns’ together in a New York recording studio. It was a winning combination of Billie Holiday and Wilson, who put together a group with Roy Eldridge
The results were spectacular. They recorded four numbers on July 2, 1935, including the classics “Miss Brown to You” and “What a Little Moonlight Can Do.” It was the first of many outstanding Teddy Wilson and Billie Holiday recording collaborations.
As a founding member of Benny Goodman’s enormously successful small ensembles, Wilson became a star of the Swing Era. His 1936 concert debut with the Benny Goodman Trio at the Congress Hotel in Chicago was a landmark in civil rights history—it was the most high-profile appearance up to that time of black and white musicians performing together in public.