Marilyn Maye

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Marilyn Maye
Birth nameMarilyn Maye McLaughlin
Born (1928-04-10) April 10, 1928 (age 91)
Wichita, Kansas, United States
Occupation(s)Singer, actress
Years active1942–present

Marilyn Maye (born April 10, 1928) is an American jazz singer, cabaret singer, and musical theater actress. She began her career as a young child, performing in Kansas in concerts and on the radio. After graduating from high school, she moved to Chicago, Illinois, where she drew the attention of Steve Allen, performing first on The Steve Allen Show and then The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. She is most frequently heard singer on the program, having appeared 76 times.

She recorded for RCA Victor during the 1960s, after which she has had a successful career as a cabaret singer. She has appeared on stage in musicals.[1]


Born Marilyn Maye McLaughlin in Wichita, Kansas,[2] she began her career as a child, competing in amateur contests in Topeka, Kansas, where her father, a pharmacist, owned a drugstore. She was accompanied on piano by her mother, who named her after singer Marilyn Miller.[3]

She began her musical training with her mother at the age of 3. At the age of 9 she began taking voice lessons with Rosamond Nyman in Topeka.[1] In 1942, after her parents divorced, she moved with her mother to Des Moines, Iowa.[4]

At age 14, while attending Amos Hiatt Junior High School, she sang for songwriters Hugh Martin and Ralph Blane. She was given a fifteen-minute radio show on KRNT in Des Moines. Another source puts the 13-week radio program on WIBW (580 AM) in Topeka, followed by a live broadcast from the Jayhawk Theater every Saturday morning for two years.[5] She graduated from East High School.

Moving to Kansas City, Missouri, she came to the attention of Steve Allen, who invited her to appear on his show; shortly after, she signed a recording contract with RCA Victor. She appeared on The Tonight Show 76 times and received a 1966 nomination for the Grammy Award for Best New Artist.[6][7] Her version of the song "Cabaret" became a hit. After singing on a commercial for Lincoln Mercury, she was given a new car every year for four years.[6]

She sang in nightclubs and in musicals such as Can-Can, Mame, and Hello, Dolly. At 78, her career was revived in 2006 when she performed at Lincoln Center for the Mabel Mercer Foundation.[6]

Awards and honors[edit]

In 2008, she received a Distinguished Arts Award from the Governor of Kansas.[8] Other honors include the Jazz Heritage Award, the Kansas City Jazz Ambassador's Award of Excellence, the Elder Statesmen of Jazz Award, and lifetime achievement awards from both the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame[9] and Kansas City's CODA Jazz Fund.

She was given a lifetime achievement award by the American Jazz Museum and inducted into its Walk of Fame.[10][11] She was also given a lifetime achievement award by The Licia Albanese-Puccini Foundation.[12] On October 14, 2012, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chicago Cabaret Professionals Association.

Her version of "Too Late Now" was included in the Smithsonian Institution recordings of the 20th Century.[13] On September 18, 2012, the Native Sons and Daughters of Greater Kansas City honored Maye with the organization's Outstanding Kansas Citian Award.[14]

Ella Fitzgerald referred to Maye as "the greatest white female singer in the world".[15]


Hit singles[edit]

  • "Cabaret" (1966)
  • "Sherry!" (1967)
  • "When We All Get Together" (1967)
  • "Step to the Rear" (1967)[16]
  • "Til You Come Back" (1968)
  • "Feelin'" (1968)
  • "Think Summer" with Ed Ames (1969)


  1. ^ a b "Maye in October". Opera News. September 2010.
  2. ^ Marilyn Maye biodata
  3. ^ Theater Mania website.
  4. ^ Des Moines Register article re Maye.
  5. ^ CJ Online website
  6. ^ a b c "Marilyn Maye, proudly "old school"". CBS News. January 28, 2018. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Berg, Chuck (October 3, 2010). "Review: Maye better than ever". The Topeka Capital. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  9. ^ "Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame". Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  10. ^ Klopus, Joe (May 17, 2015). "Jazz Town: American Jazz Museum fittingly salutes singer Marilyn Maye in May". Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  11. ^ Klopus, Joe (May 25, 2018). "Jazz Town: Star-studded concert will celebrate Jazz Walk of Fame inductees". Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  12. ^ Miller, Sarah Bryan (July 27, 2013). "Marilyn Maye brings the party to the Sheldon". Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  13. ^ Loudon, Christopher (October 31, 2011). "Marilyn Maye". JazzTimes. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  14. ^ "Marilyn Maye". Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  15. ^ Quote from Ella Fitzgerald
  16. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 162.

External links[edit]