The Cats & the Fiddle were one of dozens of harmony vocal groups to spring up in the wake of the success of the Mills Brothers. They endured longer than many of their pre-World War II rivals, both as a performing and recording unit and also as an influence on others who came after them, mostly by virtue of their style being so far out in front of the competition; yet they never charted a record in their dozen years of recording, and the biggest success that their founder ever saw on record was as a member of Louis Jordan's Tympany Five, and rather late in the day for that group as well. Leader/founder Austin Powell (lead vocals, guitar), who'd been leading groups as far back as high school in the mid-'30s, first put the Cats & the Fiddle together in 1937. Powell, Jimmy Henderson (tenor, tiple), Chuck Barksdale (bass vocals, upright bass), and Ernie Price (tenor, guitar, tiple) got together a quartet that was built on harmony vocals, but was also completely self-contained instrumentally, needing no further support on record or on-stage -- in that sense, the Cats & the Fiddle were very unusual and also offered a fuller and more complex, challenging sound than many of their rivals. The group spent a couple of years taking any work they could get, including weddings, proms, and graduation parties. They also got minor supporting (almost more like "extra") roles in a couple of Hollywood movies, including Too Hot to Handle (1938) and Going Places (1939), before they'd ever recorded a note for commercial release. In the late spring of 1939, the Cats & the Fiddle were discovered by producer/agent Lester Melrose, who got them signed to Victor Records' Bluebird imprint, for which they recorded some 42 sides, making their debut in August of 1939 with "Nuts to You" b/w "Killin' Jive."