jazz music news, obituaries
1926 – 2009
Vocalist’s Career Spanned More Than 50 Years
New York jazz singer and pianist Blossom Dearie has died. The woman whose voice was as sweet as her name died on February 9th of natural causes in her Greenwich Street apartment. She was 82.
Blossom Dearie’s highly distinctive voice and her laid-back delivery made her a favourite on the New York and London cabaret scene for more than 50 years, her child-like voice sweet and gentle or equally biting and wry, as evidenced by her signature song, David Frishberg’s “I’m Hip.”
Born Marguerite Blossom Dearie in East Durham, New York, Blossom dropped her first name to support a music career that began with classical training in piano and later moved to jazz vocals, often in the bebop world. By the mid-1940s, she was a member of the Blue Flames, associated with Woody Herman’s orchestra and with the Alvino Rey band.
She moved to Paris, France, in 1952 and formed a vocal group, the Blue Stars (later evolving into the Swingle Singers), who had a hit in France with a French-language version of “Lullaby of Birdland” (1954). While living in Paris Blossom met her future husband, the Belgian flautist and saxophonist Bobby Jaspar.
Dearie recorded six albums as a solo singer and pianist for Verve Records from the late ’50s to the early ’60s, and in 1964, recorded May I Come In? for (Capitol/EMI Records). During this time she also released four albums in the UK on the Fontana label. Dearie founded her own label, Daffodil Records, in 1974.
She appeared regularly on television, from the early days of NBC’s “Today” show to being the voice for the children’s television cartoon “Schoolhouse Rock” during the 1970’s. Her voice and songs have also been featured on several film soundtracks, including Kissing Jessica Stein, My Life Without Me, The Squid and the Whale and The Adventures of Felix.