Diane Schuur

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Diane Schuur
Background information
Born (1953-12-10) December 10, 1953 (age 62)
Tacoma, Washington United States
Genres Jazz, blues, pop
Occupation(s) Musician
Instruments Vocals, piano
Years active 1979–present
Labels GRP, Concord
Website www.dianeschuur.com

Diane Schuur (born December 10, 1953 in Tacoma, Washington) is an American jazz singer and pianist. Nicknamed "Deedles", she has won 2 Grammy Awards and had 5 nominations.[1][2] Schuur has headlined many of the world's most prestigious music venues, including Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, and The White House and has toured the world performing with such artists as Quincy Jones, Stan Getz, B. B. King, Dizzy Gillespie, Maynard Ferguson, Ray Charles, Joe Williams and Stevie Wonder.[3][4] She has performed 6 times on Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show".[5] Like Stevie Wonder, Schuur was blind at birth due to retinopathy of prematurity. In 2000 she was awarded the Helen Keller Achievement Award by the American Foundation for the Blind.[6][7]

Early life[edit]

Schuur's birth was two months premature, resulting in her blindness. Her twin brother, David, had normal vision but some hearing loss.[8] Schuur grew up in suburban Seattle. She attended the Washington School for the Blind in Vancouver from age 4 to 11. She lived at school but was able to commute home 150 miles on the train by herself. She later transferred to public school where teachers' aides helped her keep up in class.[9]

Musical beginnings[edit]

Schuur started singing when she was about 3 years old. She was blessed with perfect pitch memory and a resonant voice.[10] Her mother, who died when Schuur was 13, loved jazz and had a Duke Ellington record collection. Her father, a police captain, was an amateur musician who often played piano with his daughter sitting by his side.[11] [12] Schuur stated, "As far back as I can remember, singing was in my blood. My parents loved music, and I loved to sing. I was scatting at an early age".[8] Schuur listened to the radio avidly in her youth and her early musical idols were Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington.[10][13] She said that as a small child she would often retreat to a closet to sing.[14] She learned to play the piano by ear and eschewed braille-written music because that method took away the use of one hand and was not practical for her; however, she depended on braille-transcribed lyrics in the recording studio.[10] Her first gig was at age ten singing country music at Tacoma's Holiday Inn, a booking arranged by her aunt.[9] Schuur began performing original material and began to reveal her distinctive voice at about age sixteen. The first music professional to realize her talent was a country music singer/actor named Jimmy Wakely, who met her in an Elks Club in 1971 when she was eighteen. After she auditioned for him, he arranged a recording session and made a 45 RPM record of a song called "Dear Mommy and Daddy".[8]


In 1975, at age 22, Schuur auditioned for drummer/bandleader Ed Shaughnessy who then hired her to be the vocalist in his orchestra. Jazz trumpet star Dizzy Gillespie heard her and subsequently invited her to sit in on a set at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1979, at which time she created a minor sensation.[15] She was noticed by jazz saxophonist Stan Getz who heard her sing "Amazing Grace" and was impressed. In 1982 Getz invited her to be in his showcase to perform at the White House during the Reagan administration.[8] The White House performance was televised, giving Schuur a much broader audience, and lead to a recording contract with GRP Records.[16] President Reagan himself was not there but wrote Schuur a personal letter afterwards. Nancy Reagan invited her to perform there again in 1987, this time as a vocalist with the Count Basie Orchestra. She returned to the White House a third time to perform for President Clinton.


Stan Getz became her mentor and performed on Schuur's' first three albums — Deedles (1984), Schuur Thing (with Jose Feliciano ) and Timeless.[15] She received her first Grammy for the Timeless album which won her best female jazz vocal performance in 1986. She won another Grammy for best jazz vocal the next year for Diane Schuur & the Count Basie Orchestra. The latter album was one of her most successful, remaining at the top of Billboard's Traditional Jazz Charts for 33 weeks.[11]

In 1985, while on tour in the Far East, Schuur met B.B. King when the two of them played a music festival in Tokyo. Schuur and King hit it off musically, and eventually made an album together called Heart to Heart. It was released in May of 1994 and entered the Billboard Jazz Charts as number one.[17] Twelve of Schuur's albums have reached the Top 10 Jazz Albums on Billboard charts.[18]

Schuur continued making albums through the 1990s and into the 2000s, sometimes experimenting with touches of other genres. An example is "Schuur Fire"(2005), on which she was accompanied by the Caribbean Jazz Project musicians with arrangements featuring Brazilian guitarist Oscar Castro-Neves.[19] Talkin' 'Bout You was an album titled after the Ray Charles song by that name, and had more of a pop orientation. From 1991 on, she made an album almost every year, including In Tribute (1992]), Love Songs (1993), Heart to Heart (1994), Love Walked In (1995), Blues for Schuur (1997), Music Is My Life (1999), Friends for Schuur (2000), and Swinging' for Schuur (2001). Late in 2003, Schuur released Midnight, featuring original songs written for the album by Barry Manilow who collaborated with various co-writers. Manilow produced the album and also performed on it with Alan Broadbent on piano, Chuck Berghofer on bass, and drummers Harvey Mason and Peter Erskine.

The twentieth album of her career was a live album, Diane Schuur: Live In London, which was released in June 2006. It was her first release on the GR2 Classics label, and was recorded at an historic jazz club called Ronnie Scott's in London's Soho District. In 2011, she released The Gathering, a unique country album recorded in Nashville and produced by Steve Buckingham.[20] She said that the album was prompted by her father who loved country music and also by the success of Ray Charles in the country genre.[21] Her latest release as of 2014 is I Remember You: Love to Stan and Frank. This refers to Stan Getz and Frank Sinatra, both of whom were her personal friends and mentors.[21]

Schuur has maintained a busy tour schedule as of 2016 and 2017 including dates in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Rome, Palermo, Guanajuato(Mexico), and multiple cities across the United States.[22]

Personal life[edit]

In 1996, at age 43, Schuur married Les Crockett, a retired space engineer whom she endearingly called "Rocket". Years later he developed Parkinson's disease, prostate cancer, and other health issues, and eventually they divorced, but not for the usual reasons. He developed dementia and hallucinations requiring institutional care – with her blindness, she simply could not take care of him. [23][24]

In a 2011 interview on PBS in Houston with Ernie Manouse, Schuur stated that she had chronically struggled with her weight. She had drug and alcohol addiction in the late 1980s, and has had suicide attempts in her life. At one point, she was stopped from jumping from a third story window by her brother-in-law.[25] She benefitted from twelve-step programs and has been sober for several decades. She has dedicated songs to the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous in her shows. She stated that her life has grown much more spiritual as she has matured.[25]

She is a cat fancier. She has had cats named "Weedles" and "Puss".[21]

Selective discography[edit]

Year Title Genre Label
1982 Pilot of My Destiny Jazz Music is Medicine
1984 Deedles Jazz GRP
1985 Schuur Thing Jazz GRP
1986 Timeless Jazz GRP
1987 Diane Schuur & the Count Basie Orchestra Jazz GRP
1988 Talkin' 'bout You Jazz GRP
1988 A GRP Christmas Collection Jazz, Holiday GRP
1989 Diane Schuur Collection Jazz GRP
1991 Pure Schuur Jazz GRP
1992 In Tribute Jazz GRP
1993 Love Songs Jazz GRP
1993 A GRP Christmas Collection, Vol. III Jazz, Holiday GRP
1994 Heart to Heart w/B. B. King Jazz GRP
1996 Love Walked In Jazz GRP
1997 Blues for Schuur Blues, Jazz GRP
1997 The Best of Diane Schuur Jazz GRP
1999 Music Is My Life Jazz Atlantic / Wea
2000 Friends for Schuur Jazz Concord
2001 Swingin' for Schuur with Maynard Ferguson Jazz Concord
2003 Midnight Jazz, Pop Concord
2005 Schuur Fire with Caribbean Jazz Project Jazz Concord
2006 Diane Schuur: Live in London Jazz GR2 Classics
2008 Some Other Time Jazz Concord
2011 The Gathering Jazz Vanguard Records
2014 I Remember You:Love to Stan and Frank Jazz Jazzheads Inc./Planetworks

Grammy history[edit]

  • Career Nominations: 5[2]
  • Career Wins: 2[1]
Diane Schuur Grammy Awards History
Year Category Title Genre Label Result
1986 Best Jazz Vocal Performance – Female Timeless Jazz GRP Won
1987 Best Jazz Vocal Performance – Female Diane Schuur and the Count Basie Orchestra Jazz GRP Won
1989 Best Jazz Vocal Performance – Female The Christmas Song Jazz GRP Nominated
1991 Traditional Pop Performance Pure Schuur Pop GRP Nominated
1993 Traditional Pop Performance Love Songs Pop GRP Nominated


  1. ^ a b "Grammy Past Winners Search". grammy.com. The Recording Academy. Retrieved 1 December 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Diane Schuur South Beach Jazz Fest". colonymb.org. Colony Theatre Miami Beach. Retrieved 1 December 2016. 
  3. ^ "Diane Schuur performs at Kennedy Center to Honor Stevie Wonder". youtube.com. Retrieved 1 December 2016. 
  4. ^ "Diane Schuur performs with Ray Charles". Youtube.com. Retrieved 1 December 2016. 
  5. ^ Zimmerman, David (March 7, 1988). "A Schuur bet as the next jazz superstar". USA Today (archive): D 4. Retrieved 1 December 2016. 
  6. ^ "The American Foundation for the Blind Helen Keller Achievement Award Recipients". afb.org. American Foundation for the Blind. Retrieved 3 December 2016. 
  7. ^ Kimura, Donna. "Swingin' with Diane Schuur". jazzreview.com. Jazz Review. Retrieved 1 December 2016. 
  8. ^ a b c d Block, David (November 19, 2013). "Profiling Legendary Jazz Vocalist/Pianist Diane Schuur (Interview)". blindfilmmaker.com. Songwriter's Monthly. Retrieved November 30, 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Block, David (2002). "Two-Time Grammy Award Winning Singer Diane Schuur". blindfilmmaker.com. David Block. pp. 54–57. Retrieved 29 November 2016. 
  10. ^ a b c Feinstein, MIchael (May 14, 2014). "Diane Schuur On 'Song Travels' (podcast interview)". npr.org. National Public Radio. Retrieved 30 November 2016. 
  11. ^ a b Mueller, Michael E; Belfiore, Michael. "Contemporary Musicians". encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 5 December 2016. 
  12. ^ Kolhaase, Bill (January 14, 1995). "Happiness Is Now a Schuur Thing". Los Angeles Times (Orange County Edition): F2. Retrieved 1 December 2016. 
  13. ^ "About Diane>Bio". dianeschuur.com. Flying Turtle Studio. Retrieved 30 November 2016. 
  14. ^ "Ability Magazine: Diane Schuur – The Hot Lady of Cool Jazz" (2009)". Retrieved 2012-04-05. 
  15. ^ a b Gelly, Dave (2002). Stan Getz : nobody else but me (1. ed. ed.). San Francisco: Backbeat Books. p. 158. ISBN 0879307293. Retrieved 1 December 2016. 
  16. ^ Yanow, Scott. "All Music Guide: The Definitive Guide to Popular Music". books.google.com. Backbeat Books/AllMedia Guide. Retrieved 5 December 2016. 
  17. ^ "Steve Tyrell with special guest Diane Schuur". jazzalley.com. Dimitriou's Jazz Alley (Seattle,WA). Retrieved 7 December 2016. 
  18. ^ Billboard Chart History for Diane Schuur
  19. ^ "Schuur Fire". billboard.com. Billboard. April 23, 2005. Retrieved 6 December 2016. 
  20. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Review of "The Gathering"". allmusic.com. Allmusic, member of the RhythmOne group. Retrieved 29 November 2016. 
  21. ^ a b c Bolles, Dan (2016). "Jazz Vocalist Diane Schuur Talks Sinatra, Getz and Cats". sevendaysvt.com. Da Capo (Burlington, VT). Retrieved 9 December 2016. 
  22. ^ "Diane Schuur Concerts". Diane Schuur.com/concerts. Retrieved 7 December 2016. 
  23. ^ Spevak, Jeff (June 22, 2014). "Evolution of Life". Democrat and Chronicle(Rochester, New York): 4C. 
  24. ^ Spevak, Jeff (June 26, 2014). "Diane Schuur Getting the Story Right". democratandchronicle.com. Retrieved 3 December 2016. 
  25. ^ a b Manouse, Ernie (July 27, 2011). "Diane Schuur on InnerVIEWS with Ernie Manouse". youtube.com. Houston PBS. Retrieved 3 December 2016. 

External links[edit]