Dearie in the 1950s
|Birth name||Margrethe Blossom Dearie|
April 28, 1924|
East Durham, New York, United States
|Died||February 7, 2009
Greenwich Village, New York City, New York, United States
|Genres||Vocal jazz, cool jazz, swing, traditional pop|
|Associated acts||The Swingle Singers
Margrethe Blossom Dearie[a] (April 28, 1924 – February 7, 2009) was an American jazz singer and pianist. She is recognized and remembered for her light and girlish voice. One of the last supper club/cabaret performers, she performed regular engagements in London and New York City over many years. She collaborated with many musicians, including Johnny Mercer, Al Haywood, Miles Davis, Jack Segal, Johnny Mandel, Duncan Lamont, Mariah Blackwolf, Sandra Harris, Walter Birchett, Dave Frishberg, Len Saltzberg, Michael Conner, and Jim Council.
Dearie was born on April 28, 1924,[b] in East Durham, New York, to a father of Scots Irish (Ulster) 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", although she once recalled it was her brothers who brought the flowers to the house.
As a child she studied classical piano but switched to jazz in her teens when she joined a high school band.
After high school, Dearie moved to New York City to pursue a music career. Dropping her first name, she 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.
Dearie moved to Paris in 1952. She formed a vocal group, the Blue Stars (1952–1955), 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", arranged by Michel Legrand. The Blue Stars would later evolve into The Swingle Singers. 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 in 1957, 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, Dearie and King Pleasure recorded "I'm in the Mood for Love" (a.k.a. "Moody's Mood for Love") and this is so noted on the Prestige album 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, 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.
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 with whom she performed in Paris in the 1950s. Her voice can be heard on "Mother Necessity", "Figure Eight", and "Unpack Your Adjectives".
The songwriter Johnny Mercer, with whom Dearie collaborated for her 1975 song "I'm Shadowing You", gave one of his final compositions to her for the title song of her 1976 Daffodil album My New Celebrity is You. According to Dearie, she and Mercer were close friends.
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. 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. 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.
Personal life and final years
On February 7, 2009, "after a long illness" and "failing health", Dearie died "in her sleep" and "of natural causes" at her apartment on Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village, New York City, according to her representative and manager Donald Schaffer. She was survived by her older brother Barney as well as a nephew and a niece. She was cremated, and her ashes were interred in Falls Church, Virginia.
- Moody's Mood for Love (1952) with King Pleasure
- EmArcy/Mercury Records
- The Blue Stars of France: Lullaby of Birdland and Other Famous Hits (1954) with the Blue Stars
- 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 (Dearie's own label)
- 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)
- Dearie, Blossom (1985). "Blossom Dearie On Piano Jazz". Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz. NPR. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
- "Blossom Dearie Obituary". The New York Times. Associated Press. 2009. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
- Dearie, Blossom (March 31, 1998). "Jazz Singer And Pianist Blossom Dearie". Fresh Air. Interviewed by Terri Gross. NPR; published online November 28, 2003. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
- Profile at AllMusic
- Holden, Stephen (February 8, 2009). "Blossom Dearie, Cult Chanteuse, Dies at 84". The New York Times.
- Jack, Adrian (February 8, 2009). "Blossom Dearie". The Guardian. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
- Jones, Kenneth (February 8, 2009). "Blossom Dearie, Vocalist Whose Wispy Voice Caressed Show Music and Standards, Has Died". Playbill.com. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
- Thompson, Clifford (2009). "Blossom Dearie". In Thompson, Clifford; Helbok, Miriam; Rich, Mari; Cole, Forrest. Current Biography Yearbook (70th ed.). Hw Wilson Company. p. 653. ISBN 9780824211042. ISSN 0084-9499.
- Thurber, Jon (February 9, 2009). "Blossom Dearie dies at 82; jazz and cabaret singer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
- Yohe, Tom; Newall, George (1996), Schoolhouse Rock!: The Official Guide, New York: Hyperion Books, pp. 59, 19, 39, ISBN 0-7868-8170-4
- Blossom Dearie at the Internet Movie Database
- "Blossom Dearie & Johnny Mercer's My New Celebrity Is You Finally Out on CD", Allaboutjazz.com, 21 June 2006.
- "Blossom Dearie". TheUnclaimedFund.com. Retrieved September 28, 2016.
- "Blossom Dearie's Memorial". FindAGrave.com.
- In her 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 when considered its proper pronunciation and spelling by Dearie herself.
- Sometimes cited as 1926, her year of birth was 1924 according to most of her obituaries.
- Balliett, Whitney (1988). American Singers: 27 Portraits in Song. New York, Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-504610-2.