Abbey Lincoln was born Anna Marie Wooldridge on August 6, 1930 in Chicago, Illinois and raised in Calvin Center, Cass County, Michigan. One of many singers influenced by Billie Holiday, her 1956 album debut, Abbey Lincoln’s Affair – A Story of a Girl in Love, was followed by a series of albums for Riverside Records.
1956 saw lincoln’s first foray into acting in which she appeared in The Girl Can’t Help It, interpreting the theme song and working with Benny Carter. She would go on to be featured in movies and television shows like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Nothing But a Man, The Name of the Game, Mission: Impossible, Short Walk to Daylight, Marcus Welby, M.D., All in the Family, Mo’ Better Blues and For Love of Ivy, in which she received a Golden Globe nomination. Her song For All We Know is featured in the 1989 film Drugstore Cowboy.
Never straying far from music or the struggle for equality, in 1960 she sang on Max Roach’s landmark civil rights-themed recording, We Insist! Her lyrics often reflected the ideals of the civil rights movement and helped in generating passion for the cause in the minds of her listeners. She explored more philosophical themes during the later years of her songwriting career and remained professionally active until well into her seventies.
During the 1980s, Abbey’s catalogue of creative output was smaller and she released only a few albums. During the 1990s and until her death, however, she fulfilled a 10-album contract with Verve Records. These albums are highly regarded and represent a crowning achievement in Lincoln’s career. Devil’s Got Your Tongue (1992) featured Rodney Kendrick, Grady Tate, J. J. Johnson, Stanley Turrentine, Babatunde Olatunji and The Staple Singers, among others.
Vocalist, activist, songwriter, composer and actress Abbey Lincoln passed away eight days after her 80th birthday on August 14, 2010 in a Manhattan nursing home after suffering deteriorating health ever since undergoing open-heart surgery in 2007. She left a small but vital catalogue to the jazz canon.
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Nancie Banks was born Nancie Manzuk on July 29, 1951 in Morgantown, West Virginia and as a child sang in a church choir with her father. She learned piano from her mother beginning at age four. For a while she lived in Pittsburgh, then relocated to New York City in the Eighties where she studied with Edward Boatner, Barry Harris, and Alberto Socarras.
Performing with both small ensembles and big bands, during the late 1980s she joined Charlie Byrd’s band, met and married bandmate and trombonist Clarence Banks. Among the musicians she worked with were Lionel Hampton, Dexter Gordon, Walter Davis Jr., Bob Cunningham, Duke Jordan, Diane Schuur, George Benson, Woody Shaw, Jon Hendricks, Walter Booker, Bross Townsend, Charlie Persip, Walter Bishop, Jr., and Sadik Hakim.
In 1989 she founded her own big band and recorded four albums between 1992 and 2001. She also worked on film soundtracks, including Mo’ Better Blues and Housesitter, and in Broadway musicals such as Swingin’ On a Star. During the 1990s, she taught jazz at the City University of New York.
Vocalist, bandleader and educator Nancie Banks passed away in New York City in November 2002. Her body was discovered in her home and the precise day she died is unknown.
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Louis Thomas Jordan was born on July 8, 1908 in Brinkley, Arkansas where his father was a music teacher and bandleader for the Brinkley Brass Band and the Rabbit Foot Minstrels. Losing his mother young, he studied music under his father, starting out on the clarinet, then piano and ultimately landed on the saxophone as his primary instrument. In his youth he played in his father’s bands instead of doing farm work when school closed. During his early career period he played the piano professionally, but alto saxophone became his main instrument. However, he would become even better known as a songwriter, entertainer and vocalist.
He briefly attended and majored in music at Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock, but after a period with the Rabbit Foot Minstrels and with other local bands like Bob Alexander’s Harmony Kings, he went to Philadelphia and then New York. By 1932, Jordan was performing with the Clarence Williams band, and when he was in Philadelphia he played clarinet in the Charlie Gaines band.
1936 saw him joining the Savoy Ballroom orchestra, led by the drummer Chick Webb. A vital stepping-stone in his career, Louis introduced songs as he began singing lead, and often singing duets with up and comer Ella Fitzgerald. They would later reprise their partnership on several records, by which time both were major stars. In 1938, Webb fired Jordan for trying to persuade Fitzgerald and others to join his new band.
He became famous as one of the leading practitioners, innovators and popularizers of jump blues, a swinging, up-tempo, dance-oriented hybrid of jazz, blues and boogie-woogie. Jordan’s band also pioneered the use of the electronic organ.
Jordan was a talented singer with great comedic flair, and he fronted his own band for more than twenty years. He duetted with some of the biggest solo singing stars of his time, including Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. An actor and a major black film personality, he appeared in dozens of “soundies” or promotional film clips, made numerous cameos in mainstream features and short films, and starred in two musical feature films made especially for him.
With his dynamic Tympany Five bands, Jordan mapped out the main parameters of the classic R&B, urban blues and early rock-and-roll genres with a series of highly influential 78-rpm discs released by Decca Records. These recordings presaged many of the styles of black popular music of the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s and exerted a strong influence on many leading performers in these genres.
Known as The King of the Jukebox for his crossover popularity with both black and white audiences of the swing era, Louis was a prolific songwriter who wrote or co-wrote many songs that stayed in the top of the Billboard charts and that were influential classics of 20th-century popular music.
Pioneering alto saxophonist, pianist, clarinetist, singer, actor, songwriter and bandleader Louis Jordan, one of the most successful black recording artists of the 20th century, passed away on February 4, 1975 at age 66 in Los Angeles, California.
Kate Paradise was born in Fort Worth, Texas on June 23, 1981 but spent a majority of her childhood in southern New Hampshire, about an hour outside of Boston. Her interest in music began at an early age, singing with her mom in church and taking piano lessons from her pastor. Excelling in small but supportive music programs, taking on leadership roles in the choirs and singing in the high school big band, she auditioned and participated in numerous New Hampshire Music Education Association All-State and Jazz All-State choirs.
The summer of 1998 saw Kate attending the Berklee College of Music Summer Performance Program in Boston, Massachusetts and receiving her first formal voice training. Encouraged to further pursue her interest in jazz, a year later she enrolled at the University of Miami School of Music and spent six years earning her Bachelor of Music and Master of Music in Studio Music and Jazz Vocal Performance.
Paradise has received Downbeat Magazine’s student award for Outstanding Solo Jazz Vocal Performance and Jazz Vocal I, University of Miami’s top jazz choir. She has taught singing as a graduate assistant and began an active performing career as a jazz singer, appearing with Kurt Elling, Kevin Mahogany, Eliane Elias, Carmen Lundy, Claudia Acuna and Will Lee.
In 2005 she moved to Vermont accepting the position of jazz vocal educator at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Johnson State College and Saint Michael’s College. Continuing her performance career she quickly became a local favorite and in 2006 Kate released her debut CD, You Stepped Out of a Dream, on Sonic Mirage label. She is accompanied by pianist Joseph Davidian, bassist John Rivers, Geza Carr on drums, guitarist Nicholas Cassarino and John McKenna playing tenor saxophone.
In 2007, the track Mean To Me from You Stepped Out of a Dream was selected for Putumayo’s international release Women of Jazz. Currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee, vocalist and educator Kate Paradise continues to perform, pursue her DMA, hold down a full time instructor of commercial voice position and is the director of the Downbeat award winning jazz vocal group, Jazzmin, at Belmont University.
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My Foolish Heart is the theme song to the 1949 film of the same name adapted from J. D. Salinger’s 1948 short story Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut. Directed by Mark Robson and starred Dana Andrews and Susan Hayward. The film tells the story of a woman’s reflections on the bad turns her life has taken.
Unfortunately for movie fans this remains the only authorized film adaptation of Salinger’s work as the filmmakers’ infidelity to his story famously precluded any possibility of film versions of other Salinger works, including The Catcher in the Rye. Though a lackluster and critical reception met the movie, Hayward was nominated for an Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role and Victor Young and Ned Washington for Best Music, Song for the title song and which has become a jazz standard.
The film was recognized with a nomination by American Film Institute in 2002 to AFI’s 100 Years…100 Passions, however, it did not make the list.