Ella Mae Morse (September 12, 1924 – October 16, 1999) was an American singer of popular music whose 1940s and 1950s recordings mixing jazz, blues, and country styles influenced the development of rock and roll. She stopped recording in 1957 but continued to perform and tour into the 1990s. In 1960 she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Morse was born in Mansfield, Texas. She was hired by Jimmy Dorsey when she was 14 years old. In 1942, at the age of 17, she joined Freddie Slack's band, with whom in the same year she recorded "Cow-Cow Boogie (Cuma-Ti-Yi-Yi-Ay)", the first gold record released by Capitol Records. "Mr. Five by Five" was also recorded by Morse with Slack, and became a hit record in 1942 (Capitol 115). She also originated the wartime hit "Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet", which was later popularized by Nancy Walker in the 1944 film Broadway Rhythm.
In 1943, Morse began to record solo. She reached #1 in the R&B chart with "Shoo-Shoo Baby" in December for two weeks. In the same year she performed "Cow Cow Boogie" in the film Reveille with Beverly and co-starred in Universal's South of Dixie and The Ghost Catchers with Olsen and Johnson and How Do You Dooo?, a vehicle for radio's "Mad Russian", Bert Gordon. She sang in a wide variety of styles, and she had hits on both the U.S. pop and rhythm and blues charts. However, she never received the popularity of a major star.
The song "Love Me or Leave Me" as recorded by Morse was released by Capitol Records as catalog number 1922, with the flip side "Blacksmith Blues", which became her biggest hit. In 1946, "House of Blue Lights" by Freddie Slack and Morse, (written by Slack and Don Raye) saw them perform what was one of many of Raye's songs picked up by black R&B artists. Her biggest solo success was "Blacksmith Blues" in 1952, which sold over one million copies, and was awarded a gold disc. The same year her version of "Down the Road a Piece" appeared on Capitol with Slack again on piano accompaniment. Morse also recorded a version of "Oakie Boogie" for Capitol which reached #23 in 1952. Her version was one of the first songs arranged by Nelson Riddle.
Morse ceased recording in 1957, but continued performing until the early 1990s, under the new management of Alan Eichler, performing at such clubs as Michael's Pub in New York, Ye Little Club in Beverly Hills, the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel's Cinegrill and the Vine St. Bar and Grill. She appeared regularly at Disneyland for several years with the Ray McKinley Orchestra, and did a successful tour of Australia shortly before her final illness. She died of respiratory failure in Bullhead City, Arizona, at the age of 75.