April 28, 1924|
East Durham, New York, USA
|Died||February 7, 2009
New York City, New York, USA
|Genres||Vocal jazz, cool jazz, bebop, swing, traditional pop|
Margrethe Blossom Dearie (April 28, 1924 – February 7, 2009) was an American jazz singer and pianist, often performing in the bebop genre and remembered for her light and girlish voice. One of the last supper club performers, she performed regular engagements in London and New York City over many years.
Dearie was born on April 28, 1924, 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.
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.
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 played the piano but did not sing.
Late 1950s and 1960s
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 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
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", "Figure Eight", and "Unpack Your Adjectives".
Songwriter Johnny Mercer, with whom she collaborated for her 1975 song, "I'm Shadowing You", gave one of his final compositions to Dearie for the title song of her 1976 Daffodil album, My New Celebrity is You.
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.
Dearie died "after a long illness" on February 7, 2009, at her apartment on Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village, New York City. She was survived by her older brother as well as a nephew and a niece. She was cremated, and her ashes were interred in Falls Church, Virginia.
- EmArcy/Mercury Records
- The Blue Stars of France: Lullaby of Birdland and Other Famous Hits (1954) (with the Blue Stars vocal group)
- Barclay Records
- Blossom Dearie Plays "April in Paris" (1956) (piano only)
- Verve Records
- Blossom Dearie (1957)
- Give Him the Ooh-La-La (1957)
- Once Upon a Summertime (1958)
- Blossom Dearie Sings Comden and Green (1959)
- Soubrette Sings Broadway Hit Songs (1960)
- My Gentleman Friend (1961)
- Hires Root Beer/DIW Records
- Capitol/EMI Records
- May I Come In? (1964)
- Fontana Records
- Blossom Time at Ronnie Scott's (1966) (live)
- Sweet Blossom Dearie (1967) (live)
- Soon It's Gonna Rain (1967)
- That's Just the Way I Want to Be (1970)
- Daffodil Records
- Blossom Dearie Sings (1974)
- 1975: From The Meticulous to the Sublime (1975)
- My New Celebrity is You (1976)
- Winchester in Apple Blossom Time (1977)
- Needlepoint Magic (1979) (live)
- Simply (1983)
- Positively (1983)
- Et Tu, Bruce (1984) (live)
- Chez Wahlberg: Part One (1985)
- Songs of Chelsea (1987)
- Tweedledum & Tweedledee (Two People Who Resemble Each Other, in this Case Musically) (1991) (with Mike Renzi)
- Christmas Spice So Very Nice (1991) (with Mike Renzi)
- Our Favorite Songs (1996) (compilation)
- I'm Hip (1998) (compilation)
- Blossom's Planet (2000)
- It's All Right to Be Afraid (2003 single)
- EMI Records
- Me and Phil (1994)
- With other artists
- Alan Jay Lerner Revisited
- Arthur Schwartz Revisited
- Cole Porter Revisited Volume IV
- DeSylva, Brown & Henderson Revisited Volume I
- Frank Loesser Revisited
- Harold Arlen Revisited
- Harold Arlen & Vernon Duke Revisited Volume II
- Ira Gershwin Revisited
- Irving Berlin Revisited
- Kurt Weill Revisited Volume II
- Oscar Hammerstein Revisited
- Rodgers & Hart Revisited Volume II
- Rodgers & Hart Revisited Volume III
- Rodgers & Hart Revisited Volume IV
- Unpublished Cole Porter Volume II
- Vernon Duke Revisited
- Vincent Youmans Revisited
- Hold On to Your Hats (Complete Score)
- "In Memoriam: Blossom Dearie On Piano Jazz". NPR. February 9, 2009.
- "Blossom Dearie, Cult Chanteuse, Dies at 84". The New York Times. February 8, 2009.
- Profile at Allmusic.com
- 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
- Yohe, et al., p. 59.
- Yohe, et al., p. 19
- Yohe, et al., p. 39.
- Los Angeles Times, 9 February 2009.
- "Blossom Dearie & Johnny Mercer's My New Celebrity Is You Finally Out on CD", Allaboutjazz.com, 21 June 2006.
- Jones, Kenneth. "Blossom Dearie, Vocalist Whose Wispy Voice Caressed Show Music and Standards, Has Died", Playbill.com, 8 February 2009.
- "Blossom Dearie's Memorial at Find a Grave
- Balliett, Whitney (1988). American Singers: 27 Portraits in Song. New York, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-504610-2.
- Yohe, Tom and George Newall (1996). Schoolhouse Rock!: The Official Guide. New York, Hyperion Books. ISBN 0-7868-8170-4.
- Blossom Dearie official website
- Blossom Dearie at the Internet Movie Database
- NPR August 25, 1992 Interview with Blossom Dearie. The Girlish Voice Of Blossom Dearie.
- detailed discography
- Destinyland — podcast biography with songs
- Dearie performs several songs on YouTube
- AP Obituary in the New York Times
- A Tribute to Blossom Dearie
- Blossom Dearie at Find a Grave