Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
Barbershop-harmony female vocal quartet, formed in 1949 in Sheboygan WI; folk-oriented at first, then turning a sweet sound into a string of hits. Original lineup was Dorothy Schwartz, Jinny Osborn, Janet Ertel, Carol Bushman; one of their fathers was involved with SPEBSQSA (the Society for the Encouragement and Preservation of Barber Shop Quaartet Singing in Amwerica). The lineup changed; Schwartz was replaced by Lynn Evans '52, Osborn by Margie Needham '53; Ertel by Nancy Overton (d 5 April 2009 aged 83).
They sang locally, won an Arthur Godfrey Talent Scout show, became Godfrey regulars and recorded for Columbia by themselves and with Godfrey. When Godfrey's music director Archie Bleyer started his Cadence label '54, the Chordettes went with him (Janet Ertel married Bleyer). Their first hit 'Mr Sandman' was no. 1 for several weeks. Accurate harmony brought them 13 Hot 100 entries '54-61; other top 20s included 'Eddie My Love' (also a hit for the Fontane Sisters and the Teen Queens), 'Born To Be With You', 'Lay Down Your Arms' (covered in UK by Anne Shelton), all '56; 'Just Between You And Me' '57, 'Lollipop' (by Mudlarks in UK) and 'Zorro' '58, 'Never On Sunday' '61. Compilations on Ace, Rhino, etc.