Still in high school, April then moved on to record for Society Records. On 'Don't Do It', her first for Society, her sweetly innocent approach to addressing very real concerns for a teenage girl was given a twist at the end by giving in to the boy's advances, as long as there's a commitment. "Don't Do It" was banned from airplay by those early '50s guardians of public morality. "Stop holding my hand," April pleaded; but in the second verse, she suggestively purred "I need it, how I need it..ooooh I want it." Consequently, "Don't Do It" sold by word of mouth only, from under the counter.
Henri René, the West Coast head of Artists and Repertoire for RCA Victor Records, heard "Don't Do It" and sensed an "unusual quality" in April's sensuous, alluring vocals. He convinced her to record material with him and his orchestra. In June, 1951, the German-raised arranger/conductor released Cole Porter's chestnut "I'm In Love Again" with April as his featured vocalist, singing in a throaty half-whisper, embraced by a lush string section. It remained on the charts for an amazing15 weeks and reached a peak position of #6. The song was especially popular with Korean War servicemen, and generated volumes of fan mail. When asked by her high school friends if she had heard that "sexy new singer," Carol Lo Tempio just smiled.
An Overview of April Stevens' Musical Career
April's Society recordings bring to mind the sweet lilting voice of a Disney heroine, but with a libido. Backing the release of 'Don't Do It', (a thinly disguised double entendre lyric with lines like 'I need it, How I want it') with 'The Sweetest Day', which would be a perfect 3 minute soundtrack for a cartoon about happy little hearts and flowers in October, perfectly exemplify this concept. Her delivery is so innocent, so pure, that you could almost believe she had no idea what the lyrics double-entended.
Of course, recording artists competed in a male-dominated milieu in the early '50s, and the idea of an innocent young virgin who isn't really quite aware of what she's giving in to, yet secretly craves the man's attentions, is a male invention. And it worked wonders for the servicemen of the time. There were stacks of fanmail, and a favorite theme was thinking up a title for April to be awarded. Some of them (and there are pages of them) were:
The Gal We'd Most Like To Share Our Tent WithThe Girl We'd Like Most To Spend Uncle Sam's Money WithMiss Sexy Voice of 1952The Girl With Whom We Would Most Like To Be Marooned On An IcebergOur Pert, Petite, Pretty, Powerfully Potent Package of PassionThe Girl With The Bedroom VoiceThe Girl To Replace Central HeatingRadio's Silk PillowThe Intimate Miss With The Musical KissThe Girl With The Passionate PurrThe Voice Behind the Moon
And the letters themselves give some insight to just how important April's sweet yearning innocence was to some of the boys, ala:
"We long for companionship of those we love. One consolation we have is that you are here with us - on records, on the radio, in our minds. When we hear your soft sensual tones floating through our room, we feel ourselves carried away to a world of love and ecstasy. All our troubles are erased and we find ourselves reposing on the proverbial pink cloud. To us, you are the epitome of feminine charm."
"On my disk-jockey program, The Voice of The Desert, in Saudi Arabia, you are one of my favorite recording artists, and as for the rest of the base, more of your records are requested than any other artist. Please keep them coming, you are doing the morale of this isolated base wonders...Dhahran, Saudi Arabia"
"Darling, your voice! You don't know how much your songs mean to my men. Something like you is what all of us is fighting for. They all wanted me to write for them. We want your photograph immediately. So darling, don't let us down, we aren't (letting) you (down). We are trying our best over here. So please don't let us down..." M/Sgt Front Lines, Korea
"You have a voice that's two parts heaven and one part hell. It makes you feel like bending an iron bar. You feel like cussing and crying and writing a letter to your girl and putting a lot of mush in it, that you never knew you knew..."
"Every time someone who has heard 'Don't Do It' is asked to describe it, he is siezed by what amounts to convulsions and an expression that closely approximates that of a starved dog dreaming of a T-bone steak. You have quite an effect on a man under normal conditions, imagine what it is like when you haven't seen a woman for ten months..." Aleutians
Best of the Roses, John French mystrawhat.com