Blossom Dearie

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Blossom Dearie
Blossom Dearie.jpg
Dearie in the 1950s
Background information
Born (1924-04-28)April 28, 1924
East Durham, New York, U.S.
Died February 7, 2009(2009-02-07) (aged 84)
Greenwich Village, New York City, New York, U.S.
Genres
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments
Years active 1952–2006
Labels
Associated acts

Blossom Dearie[1][a][2] (April 28, 1924 – February 7, 2009) was an American jazz singer and pianist.[3] She had a recognizably light and girlish voice.[4][5][2][3] One of the last supper club/cabaret performers,[3] she performed regular engagements in London and New York City over many years.[4][2] She collaborated with many musicians, including Johnny Mercer, Miles Davis,[3][6] Jack Segal, Johnny Mandel, Duncan Lamont, and Dave Frishberg, among others.[7]

Early life[edit]

Dearie was born on April 28, 1924,[b] in East Durham, New York,[8] to a father of Scots Irish descent and a mother of Norwegian descent.

She reportedly received the unusual name Blossom because of "a neighbor who delivered peach blossoms to her house the day she was born",[9] although she once recalled it was her brothers who brought the flowers to the house.[1]

Career[edit]

Beginnings[edit]

After high school, Dearie moved to New York City[7] to pursue a music career. Dropping her first name,[2] she began to sing in groups such as the Blue Flames (with the Woody Herman Orchestra)[1] and the Blue Reys (with Alvino Rey's band) before starting her solo career.[4]

Dearie moved to Paris in 1952. She formed a vocal group, the Blue Stars (1952–1955),[1][5] which included Michel Legrand's sister, Christiane, and Bob Dorough. In 1954 the group had a hit in France with a French-language version of "Lullaby of Birdland",[1] arranged by Michel Legrand.[6] The Blue Stars would later evolve into The Swingle Singers.[6] On her first solo album, released two years later, she played the piano but did not sing.[4]

In 1954, Dearie and King Pleasure recorded "Moody's Mood for Love" (a vocal adaptation by Eddie Jefferson of a James Moody sax solo for "I'm in the Mood for Love") and this is so noted on the Prestige album King Pleasure Sings.

One of Dearie's most famous song recordings from that period is "The Riviera", with music by Cy Coleman and lyrics by Joseph McCarthy, in 1956.[4]

Late 1950s and 1960s[edit]

After returning from France in 1957,[1] Dearie made her first six American albums as a solo singer and pianist for Verve Records in the late 1950s and early 1960s,[10] 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.[11] 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[12] 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).[13] It was recorded (atypically for her) with an orchestra. During this same period, she performed frequently at 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, including a recording of her 1966 performance at Ronnie Scott's.[14]

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 with whom she performed in Paris in the 1950s. Her voice can be heard on "Mother Necessity", "Figure Eight", and "Unpack Your Adjectives".[15][16]

The songwriter Johnny Mercer, with whom Dearie collaborated for her 1975 song "I'm Shadowing You",[5] gave one of his final compositions to her for the title song of her 1976 Daffodil album My New Celebrity is You.[9][17] According to Dearie, she and Mercer were close friends.[1]

In 1983, Dearie was awarded the first Mabel Mercer Foundation Award.[7]

Other[edit]

Dearie's 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.[5] Among her most requested songs were "Peel Me a Grape", "I'm Hip" and "Quality Time" by Dave Frishberg.

She appeared regularly on British television with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.[6] several times as a guest of Jack Paar on his Tonight show and also appeared on The Danny Kaye Show, The David Frost Show, and The Merv Griffin Show.[9][16][6]

Personal life and final years[edit]

While living in Paris in the early 1950s, Dearie met Bobby Jaspar, a Belgian flutist and saxophonist. They were briefly married.[9]

On February 7, 2009, after a long illness[7] and failing health,[9] Dearie died in her sleep[9], of natural causes[5] at her apartment on Sheridan Square[18] in Greenwich Village, New York City, according to her representative and manager Donald Schaffer.[5][7]

She was survived by her older brother Barney as well as a nephew and a niece.[5][2] She was cremated, and her ashes were interred in Falls Church, Virginia.[19]

Discography[edit]

Prestige
EmArcy/Mercury
  • The Blue Stars of France: Lullaby of Birdland and Other Famous Hits (1954) with the Blue Stars
Barclay
  • Blossom Dearie Plays "April in Paris" (1956)
Verve
Hires Root Beer/DIW
Capitol/EMI
Fontana
Daffodil
EMI
With other artists

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Dearie, Blossom (1985). "Blossom Dearie On Piano Jazz". Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz. NPR. Retrieved September 28, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Blossom Dearie Obituary". The New York Times. Associated Press. 2009. Retrieved September 28, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c d Dearie, Blossom (March 31, 1998). "Jazz Singer And Pianist Blossom Dearie". Fresh Air. Interview with Interviewed by Terri Gross. NPR; published online November 28, 2003. Retrieved September 28, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Profile at AllMusic
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Holden, Stephen (February 8, 2009). "Blossom Dearie, Cult Chanteuse, Dies at 84". The New York Times. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Jack, Adrian (February 8, 2009). "Blossom Dearie". The Guardian. Retrieved September 28, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Jones, Kenneth (February 8, 2009). "Blossom Dearie, Vocalist Whose Wispy Voice Caressed Show Music and Standards, Has Died". Playbill.com. Retrieved September 28, 2016. 
  8. ^ Thompson, Clifford (2009). "Blossom Dearie profile". In Thompson, Clifford; Helbok, Miriam; Rich, Mari; Cole, Forrest. Current Biography Yearbook (70th ed.). H.W. Wilson Company. p. 653. ISBN 9780824211042. ISSN 0084-9499. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f Thurber, Jon (February 9, 2009). "Blossom Dearie dies at 82; (sic) jazz and cabaret singer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 28, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Blossom Dearie". Discogs. Retrieved 2017-09-13. 
  11. ^ Jack, Adrian (2009-02-09). "Obituary: Blossom Dearie". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-09-13. 
  12. ^ "Long Live Blossom Dearie". PopMatters. Retrieved 2017-09-13. 
  13. ^ "Blossom Dearie". Discogs. Retrieved 2017-09-13. 
  14. ^ "Blossom Dearie". Discogs. Retrieved 2017-09-13. 
  15. ^ Yohe, Tom; Newall, George (1996), Schoolhouse Rock!: The Official Guide, New York: Hyperion Books, pp. 19, 39, 59, ISBN 0-7868-8170-4 
  16. ^ a b Blossom Dearie on IMDb
  17. ^ "Blossom Dearie & Johnny Mercer's My New Celebrity Is You Finally Out on CD" Archived February 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine., Allaboutjazz.com, June 21, 2006.
  18. ^ "Blossom Dearie obituary". TheUnclaimedFund.com. Retrieved September 28, 2016. 
  19. ^ "Blossom Dearie's Memorial". FindAGrave.com. 

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In a 1985 interview with Marian McPartland, Dearie explained that Margrethe (which she spelled) is a Norwegian version of Margaret, and that it is her Christian name, but her birth certificate has her first and middle names one way, and her passport has them in the reverse order. Many sources — including those contained as references in this Wikipedia article — provide conflicting information regarding the order of her first and middle names, also sometimes providing an alternate spelling "Marguerite" or "Margrete", which are incorrect, especially considering the pronunciation and spelling by Dearie herself.
  2. ^ Sometimes cited as 1926, her year of birth was actually 1924 according to most of her obituaries.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]