Irene Kral (January 18, 1932 – August 15, 1978) was an American jazz singer who was born to Czechoslovakian parents in Chicago, Illinois, and settled in Los Angeles in the early 1960s. She died, due to breast cancer, in Encino, California.
Kral's older brother, Roy Kral, was a successful musician when she started singing professionally as a teenager. She sang with bands on tours led by Woody Herman and Chubby Jackson, former Herman bass player. She joined Maynard Ferguson's band in the late 1950s and sang with groups led by Stan Kenton and Shelly Manne. She then started a solo career until her death at 46 years of age. She was a ballad singer who stated that Carmen McRae was one of her inspirations. She became more famous posthumously when Clint Eastwood used her recordings in his 1995 movie The Bridges of Madison County.
Her style has been compared to that of Carmen McRae (the two singers were friends). Dana Countryman quotes from Linda Dahl's 1984 book on women in jazz, Stormy Weather: "Irene Kral had a lovely, resonant voice with a discreet vibrato, flawless diction and intonation, and a slight, attractive nasality and shaping of phrases that resembled Carmen McRae's. But where McRae's readings tend to the astringent, Kral's melt like butter. She was a master of quiet understatement and good taste."
- The Band and I (United Artists, 1958) with Herb Pomeroy
- SteveIreneo! (United Artists, 1959) with Steve Allen and Al Cohn and his Orchestra
- Better Than Anything (Äva, 1963) with the Junior Mance Trio
- Wonderful Life (Mainstream, 1965)
- Lady of Lavender (Jazz West, 1969 )
- Where Is Love? (Choice, 1974) with Alan Broadbent
- Just for Now (Jazzed Media, 1975 ) [live]
- Second Chance (Jazzed Media, 1975 ) [live]
- You Are There (Audiophile, 1977 )
- Kral Space (Catalyst, 1977)
- Irene Kral Live (Just Jazz, 1977 )
- Angel Eyes: Live in Tokyo (TDK, 1977 ) [live]
- Gentle Rain (Choice, 1977) with Alan Broadbent
With Laurindo Almeida
- Guitar from Ipenema (Capitol, 1964)
With Buddy Collette
- The Buddy Collette Quintet (Studiowest, 1962 )
With Maynard Ferguson
With Terry Gibbs
- Dream Band, Vol. 6: One More Time (Contemporary, 1959 )
With Johnny Mandel
- The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (Soundtrack) (United Artists, 1966) - sings on one track "The Shining Sea"
With Shelly Manne
- My Fair Lady with the Un-original Cast (Capitol, 1964)
With Dave Remington's Big Band
- Chicago Shouts (Universal, 1968) featured vocalist on four tracks