Spivey, Victoria Regina (1906–1976)

By: Donna P. Parker

Type: Biography

Published: June 1, 1995

Updated: June 23, 2017

Victoria Regina Spivey (known as Queen, Vicky, and Jane Lucas), blues singer and songwriter, daughter of Grant and Addie (Smith) Spivey, was born at Houston on October 15, 1906. Her mother was a nurse, and her father had his own family string band. Victoria learned piano as a child and during her teens played at local parties in the Houston area. In 1918 she played in Lazy Daddy's Fillmore Blues Band and L. C. Tolen's Band and Revue in Dallas; in the early 1920s she worked with Blind Lemon Jefferson and others in gambling houses, "gay houses," and other clubs in Galveston and Houston.

Known for her "`mean' blues with a hard and nasal voice," she made her first recording with her own composition "Black Snake Blues" on the OKeh label in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1926. Her sisters Addie (Sweet Peas), Elton Island (the Za Zu Girl), and Leona were also singers who toured with her into the 1930s, working in vaudeville houses, barrelhouses, and theaters through Missouri, Texas, and Michigan. Vicky's popularity increased because of her role in the 1929 King Vidor film Hallelujah. She wrote most of her songs and recorded them between 1926 and 1937. She recorded or performed with Louis Armstrong, Henry Allen, Lee Collins, Lonnie Johnson, Memphis Minnie (Minnie Douglas Lawless), Bessie Smith, and Tampa Red (Hudson Whittaker).

After her first marriage to trumpeter Reuben Floyd, she married William (Billy) Adams, a dancer, and performed with him. She was married two other times. From 1952 to about 1960, she performed only occasionally and largely dropped out of the music scene and settled down at her home in Brooklyn, where she worked as a church administrator and devoted time to her church choir.

The 1960s, however, brought a folk and blues revival. With jazz author Len Kunstadt, Spivey started her own label, Spivey Records, in 1961 to produce her own recordings and those of other blues artists. One of her earliest releases was Three Kings and the Queen (1962), which included a young Bob Dylan on blues harmonica and backing vocals. From 1963 to 1966 she contributed articles to Record Research and Sounds and Fury. In 1970 BMI awarded her the Commendation of Excellence "for long and outstanding contribution to the many worlds of music." Vicky Spivey died at New York on October 3, 1976, and was buried in Greenfield Cemetery, Hempstead, New York. She was survived by two daughters. She is honored in the Houston Institute for Culture’s Texas Music Hall of Fame. Spivey Records was relaunched in 2007 and offered remastered rare recordings from the label.

Visit the Texas Women Project's standalone website

The Handbook of Texas Women project has its own dedicated website and resources.

Visit Website

Donald Bogle, Blacks in American Film and Television: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland, 1988). John Chilton, Who's Who of Jazz: Storyville to Swing Street (London: Bloomsbury Book Shop, 1970; American ed., New York and Philadelphia: Chilton, 1972; 4th ed., New York: Da Capo Press, 1985). Sheldon Harris, Blues Who's Who: A Biographical Dictionary of Blues Singers (New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1979). Jazz on Record: A Critical Guide (London: Hutchinson, 1960; rev. ed., London: Hanover, 1968). Eileen Southern, Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood, 1982). Spivey Records (http://www.spiveyrecords.com), accessed November 23, 2011. Mary Mace Spradling, ed., In Black and White (Detroit: Gale Research, 1971; rev. ed., Kalamazoo Public Library, 1976; 3d ed., with suppl., Detroit: Gale Research, 1980, 1985).

  • Music
  • Genres (Blues)
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Women
Time Periods:
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Great Depression
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Donna P. Parker, “Spivey, Victoria Regina,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/spivey-victoria-regina.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

June 1, 1995
June 23, 2017

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: