Born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1935, Eloise showed interest in music from a very early age. Her brother, Freddie, who played the guitar and wrote songs, played a hand in passing his musical skills on to his sister. Eloise, without a doubt, rose to become the most respected female entertainer in her time. Only time will tell whether she will be the greatest in the annals of Bahamian times. There are many reasons for the many accolades bestowed upon her. She was a pioneer when it wasn't popular for women to be performing on stage in nightclubs. In a male dominated industry, she made her presence felt with her powerful voice and unique delivery of goombay songs.
Not only did she sing her way into the hearts of those that listened to her, she was very competent on the lead and the bass guitar. Starting her singing career at the age of twelve, Eloise distinguished herself by winning many amateur talent shows, some of which were held at the Cinema Theatre in Nassau during the 40's and early 50's. She further developed her musical talent playing with renowned goombay drummer Berkley 'Peanuts' Taylor.
After her first album "Chi Chi Merengue" in the 50's, she left to tour the United States. The 60's would bring her back to the Bahamas to perform for local audiences in various clubs including Blackbeard’s Tavern on Bay Street, Montague Beach Hotel at the eastern foreshore of Nassau, and The Emerald Beach Hotel on west Bay Street. After a three- year absence from the stage, she joined 'Peanuts' in 1967 as a star attraction at the Drumbeat Club just off downtown Nassau. At a time when the Bahamas Tourist Board used local musicians to drum up visitors to our shores, Eloise along with many other musicians made invaluable contributions to the building up of the tourism industry. Her travels would take her to many far away destinations including the United States, Mexico, Europe, and Japan, where she captivated audiences with her brand of goombay music. Her move to Freeport would mark the last of her travels. There she remained until her death in 1984.
Click play to hear Maureen talk about her encounter with Eloise -
Maureen DuV-alier, a prominent entertainer herself, and a friend to Eloise, described Eloise as "a very private person who kept few friends" (DuV-alier, 2004). They first met when Eloise was working at the Hillside Hotel just steps away from where Maureen appeared at the Silver Slipper on East Street near Downtown Nassau. According to Maureen, Eloise would talk music all day, and encouraged everyone she met to learn to play an instrument. An avid reader, Eloise enjoyed time alone unlike the bubbly Maureen who was always on the go. Maureen recalls the one occasion both of them happened to walk into the Blackbeard’s Tavern about 10 minutes apart. George Symonette celebrated that moment and invited both of the most popular ladies of music to join him at the piano. The music went on all night at the insistence of the club owner, with people on the outside clamoring to gain entrance to witness what was described as a once in a lifetime performance.
During her years on the Bahamian stage, Eloise was often accompanied by George Wilson (bass), "Peanuts" Taylor (drums), and "Barbalou" (maracas).