Will Friedwald’s illuminating, opinionated essays—provocative, funny, and personal—on the lives and careers of more than three hundred singers anatomize the work of the most important jazz and popular performers of the twentieth century. From giants like Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Frank Sinatra, and Judy Garland to lesser-known artists like Jeri Southern and Joe Mooney, they have created a body of work that continues to please and inspire. Here is the most extensive biographical and critical survey of these singers ever written, as well as an essential guide to the Great American Songbook and those who shaped the way it has been sung.
The music crosses from jazz to pop and back again, from the songs of Irving Berlin and W. C. Handy through Stephen Sondheim and beyond, bringing together straightforward jazz and pop singers (Billie Holiday, Perry Como); hybrid artists who moved among genres and combined them (Peggy Lee, Mel TormÉ); the leading men and women of Broadway and Hollywood (Ethel Merman, Al Jolson); yesterday’s vaudeville and radio stars (Sophie Tucker, Eddie Cantor); and today’s cabaret artists and hit-makers (Diana Krall, Michael BublÉ). Friedwald has also written extended pieces on the most representative artists of five significant genres that lie outside the songbook: Bessie Smith (blues), Mahalia Jackson (gospel), Hank Williams (country and western), Elvis Presley (rock ’n’ roll), and Bob Dylan (folk-rock).
Friedwald reconsiders the personal stories and professional successes and failures of all these artists, their songs, and their performances, appraising both the singers and their music by balancing his opinions with those of fellow musicians, listeners, and critics.
This magisterial reference book—ten years in the making—will delight and inform anyone with a passion for the iconic music of America, which continues to resonate throughout our popular culture.
From the Hardcover edition.
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|Title of eBook: A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers|
|Release Date: 11-02-2010|
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|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers
From Rosemary Clooney (1928–2002)
Both the Westbury and the Honolulu concerts were unbelievably moving, the first one especially so. A lot of us were aware, even if we didn’t want to admit it, that this was going to be a farewell appearance, and we were also on edge because this was very shortly after the tragedy of September 11, 2001. Rosemary had been ending all her concerts that fall with “God Bless America,” and, as she told me afterward, she had been inviting the audience to join her for the second chorus. In New York, however, no one waited; the crowd started singing along with her from the first note. Rosemary was visibly moved, as was everyone else. She obviously was thinking about that when she got to the conclusion of the Honolulu show. If you thought her version of “Brazil” was heartbreaking, you should hear what she does with “God Bless America”; if anything, it’s even more amazing in that she reminds us that Irving Berlin’s number is not an institution, not an anthem, but a song, to be interpreted and sung from the heart like any other. You feel, as always, as if she’s singing about something that means everything to her. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a country, a child, a lover, or sweet Kentucky ham.
From Bing Crosby (1903–1977)
Another later album, Songs I Wish I Had Sung (The First Time Around), was essentially Crosby’s way of acknowledging that he wasn’t the only male singer to create hits and standards. Longtime Decca associate Milt Gabler came up with the idea, and also that of using musical director Jack Pleis. Crosby offers “Thanks for the Memory