Blossom Dearie

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Blossom Dearie
Blossom Dearie.jpg
Background information
Born(1924-04-28)April 28, 1924
East Durham, New York, USA
DiedFebruary 7, 2009(2009-02-07) (aged 84)
New York, New York, USA
GenresVocal jazz, cool jazz, bebop, swing, traditional pop
OccupationsVocalist, pianist
Years active1952–2006
LabelsVerve/PolyGram Records
Daffodil Records
Barclay/PolyGram Records
Capitol/EMI Records
Notable instruments
Piano
Vocals
 
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Blossom Dearie
Blossom Dearie.jpg
Background information
Born(1924-04-28)April 28, 1924
East Durham, New York, USA
DiedFebruary 7, 2009(2009-02-07) (aged 84)
New York, New York, USA
GenresVocal jazz, cool jazz, bebop, swing, traditional pop
OccupationsVocalist, pianist
Years active1952–2006
LabelsVerve/PolyGram Records
Daffodil Records
Barclay/PolyGram Records
Capitol/EMI Records
Notable instruments
Piano
Vocals

Margrethe[1] Blossom Dearie (April 28, 1924–February 7, 2009[2]) was an American jazz singer and pianist, often performing in the bebop genre and remembered for her light and girlish voice.[3] One of the last supper club performers, she performed regular engagements in London and New York City over many years.[3]

Early life[edit]

Dearie was born on April 28, 1924,[4] in East Durham, New York, to a father of Irish-Scottish descent and a mother of Norwegian descent. As a child she studied classical piano but switched to jazz in her teens.

Career beginnings[edit]

After high school Dearie moved to New York City to pursue a music career and began to sing in groups such as the Blue Flames (with the Woody Herman Orchestra) and the Blue Reys (with Alvino Rey's band) before starting her solo career.[3]

She moved to Paris in 1952 and formed a vocal group, The Blue Stars of France, which included Michel Legrand's sister, Christiane Legrand, and Bob Dorough. In 1954 the group had a hit in France with a French-language version of "Lullaby of Birdland". The Blue Stars would later evolve into the Swingle Singers. While in Paris Dearie met her future husband, Belgian flutist and saxophonist Bobby Jaspar. On her first solo album, released two years later, she plays the piano but does not sing.[3]

One of her most famous songs from that period is "The Riviera", which was written and composed by Cy Coleman and Joseph McCarthy Jr. in 1956.[3]

Late 1950s and 1960s[edit]

After returning from France, Dearie made her first six American albums as a solo singer and pianist for Verve Records in the late 1950s and early 1960s, mostly in a small trio or quartet setting. Dave Garroway, host of The Today Show and an early fan of Dearie, featured her on several occasions, increasing her exposure with the popular audience. In 1962, she recorded a radio commercial for Hires Root Beer. As it proved very popular, the LP Blossom Dearie Sings Rootin' Songs was released as a premium item that could be ordered for one dollar and a proof of purchase.

In 1952 she and King Pleasure recorded "I'm in the Mood for Love" (aka "Moody's Mood for Love") and this is so noted on the Prestige CD entitled King Pleasure Sings.

In 1964, she recorded the album May I Come In? (Capitol/EMI Records). It was recorded (atypically for her) with an orchestra. During this same period, Dearie performed frequently in New York supper clubs and in 1966 made her first appearance at Ronnie Scott's club in London. She recorded four albums in the United Kingdom during the 1960s that were released on the Fontana label.

Her most requested titles were "Peel Me a Grape", "I'm Hip" and "Quality Time" by Dave Frishberg.

1970s and later[edit]

After a period of inactivity, Dearie recorded the album That's Just the Way I Want to Be (containing the cult song "Dusty Springfield", an ode to the British pop star co-written by Dearie with Norma Tanega), which was released in 1970. In 1974, Dearie established her own label, Daffodil Records, which allowed her to have full control of the recording and distribution of her albums. Dearie appeared on television throughout her career, most notably giving her voice to the children's educational series Schoolhouse Rock! Some of her pieces in this series were written by her good friend Bob Dorough, the jazz singer and composer. Her voice can be heard on "Mother Necessity",[5] "Figure Eight",[6] and "Unpack Your Adjectives".[7]

Songwriter Johnny Mercer, with whom she collaborated for her 1975 song, "I'm Shadowing You",[2] gave one of his final compositions to Dearie for the title song of her 1976 Daffodil album, My New Celebrity is You.[8][9]

In 1983, Dearie was awarded the first Mabel Mercer Foundation Award.[10]

Her voice and songs have been featured on the soundtracks of several films, including Kissing Jessica Stein, My Life Without Me, The Squid and the Whale, The Adventures of Felix, and The Artist. She also recorded songs with other singers, including Lyle Lovett. She continued to perform in clubs until 2006.[2]

Dearie died "after a long illness" on February 7, 2009, at her apartment in Greenwich Village, New York City.[2][10] She was survived by her older brother as well as a nephew and a niece. Her interment was in Flushing, New York.

Discography[edit]

EmArcy/Mercury Records
Barclay Records
Verve Records
Hires Root Beer/DIW Records
Capitol/EMI Records
Fontana Records
Daffodil Records
EMI Records
With other artists

References[edit]

  1. ^ "In Memoriam: Blossom Dearie On Piano Jazz"Piano Jazz February 9, 2009 @ 0:26
  2. ^ a b c d "Blossom Dearie, Cult Chanteuse, Dies at 84", The New York Times, 8 February 2009.
  3. ^ a b c d e Profile at Allmusic.com
  4. ^ Usually cited as 1926, her year of birth was 1926 according to her obituary in the 2009 Current Biography Yearbook, p. 653; ISBN 9780824211042/ISSN 0084-9499
  5. ^ Yohe, et al., p. 59.
  6. ^ Yohe, et al., p. 19
  7. ^ Yohe, et al., p. 39.
  8. ^ Los Angeles Times, 9 February 2009.
  9. ^ "Blossom Dearie & Johnny Mercer's My New Celebrity Is You Finally Out on CD", Allaboutjazz.com, 21 June 2006.
  10. ^ a b Jones, Kenneth. "Blossom Dearie, Vocalist Whose Wispy Voice Caressed Show Music and Standards, Has Died", Playbill.com, 8 February 2009.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]