Mabel Albins was one of the first professional singers in Sweden to introduce jazz influences into her singing.
Mable Albins was born in Jönköping in 1912. She was first exposed to jazz music during a lengthy visit to the USA during the 1934–1935 period. She had travelled to North America both to visit family in various places, including New York, and to train as an illustrator of advertising. She had already performed as a vocalist with dance bands in Sweden before she travelled across the Atlantic Ocean. She carried on singing in the USA, appearing, for example, in radio competitions such as Major Bowes Amateur Hour.
On her return journey from America, on the Gripsholm, Mable Albins became acquainted with Nils Hellström, a central figure of the early Swedish jazz world who became the first editor of the jazz magazine called Orkesterjournalen shortly afterwards. The 1935 Christmas issue of the magazine includes a feature on Mabel Albins which presents her as an ambitious and promising singer and artist.
It was not long before Mable Albins began to sing with the most prominent Swedish entertainment orchestras. Her contemporaries described her as a “crooner”. In 1936 she toured with the Charles Redland band, and the following year she performed with the Frank Vernon band at Bal Palais in Stockholm. In 1938 she performed on a radio programme with the Thore Ehrling band, and the next year she appeared with the Miff Görling band. All these bands belonged to the elite of Swedish entertainment and dance bands at the time.
At this time few Swedes spoke English and Mabel Albins thus stood out as she had mastered the English language. Alice Babs, who was twelve years her junior, was one of the early singers who listened to and took inspiration from Mabel Albins. In her autobiography Alice Babs reveals that she received help from Mabel Albins in terms of pronunciation and the lyrics of a couple of English jazz songs. Only a handful of Mabel Albins recordings have survived. The best-known of these is a recording from 1938 with “Alexander’s Ragtime Band” and the Sonora Swing Singers.
From 1942 onwards Mabel Albins no longer performed as a singer as often primarily because she had gained employment at the American Embassy in Stockholm. In 1948 she emigrated to the USA, where she spent most of her life until she finally returned to Sweden. She died in Malmö in 2005, aged 93. She is buried at Limhamn cemetery.