Almost In Your Arms is the love song from the 1958 romantic comedy Houseboat starring Cary Grant, Sophia Loren, Martha Hyer, Paul Peterson, Charles Herbert and Mimi Gibson. Jay Livingston and Ray Evans composed and wrote the music and lyrics.
The Story: Estranged husband Tom Winters returns home from Europe after his wife’s death and takes his three unwilling children to Washington DC where he works for the State Department. Unhappy, Robert runs away and is found by Cinzia Zaccardi, the daughter of a famous Italian conductor, who is also running away. Unbeknownst, Winters offers her a job as a maid and eventually she accepts. Sister-in-law offers Tom and the children her guest house which is destroyed by a train, the driver sells Winters his broken down houseboat, all move in and the fun begins. Eventually Tom and Cinzia get married and the rest is happily-ever-after.
Annie Ross was born Annabelle McCauley Allan Short to vaudeville parents on July 25, 1930 in Mitcham, London, England and was raised in Los Angeles, California by her aunt, singer Ella Logan. When she was seven years old she sang the “Bonnie Banks of o’ Loch Lomond” in Our Gang Follies of 1938 and played Judy Garland’s sister in Presenting Lily Mars. By the age of 14 she wrote the song “Let’s Fly” which won a songwriting contest and was recorded by Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers. By the end of her tenth grade she left school, went to Europe, changed her surname to Ross and quickly started her singing career.
Best known as a member of the trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, Annie is one of the early practitioners of a singing style known as vocalese, that involves the setting of original lyrics to an instrumental jazz solo. Her 1952 treatment of saxophonist Wardell Gray’s “Twisted” is a classic example of vocalese.
During the Fifties she recorded her first album, Singin’ and Swingin’with the MJQ, followed by Annie By Candlelight, Sing A Song With Mulligan and A Gasser! with Zoot Sims. She recorded seven albums with Lambert, Hendricks & Ross between 1957 and 1962. Their first, Sing A Song Of Basie resulted in a success and the trio became an international hit. Ross left the group in 1962 and in 1964 opened her own nightclub, Annie’s Room, in London.
Ross is also an accomplished actress appearing in a number of films such as Superman III, Throw Momma From The Train, Wicker Man, and on stage Three Penny Opera and Side By Side By Sondheim.
Annie has been the recipient of the ASCAP Jazz Wall Of Fame, the NEA Jazz Masters Award and the MAC Award for Lifetime Achievement and performs regularly at The Metropolitan Room in New York City.
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Janis Siegel was born July 23, 1952 in Brooklyn, New York. She first recorded in 1965 with a group called Young Generation for Red Bird records. By ’72 when the original Manhattan Transfer disbanded, founder Tim Hauser revamped adding Siegel and went on to international fame singing jazz, jazz-fusion, pop, R&B and doo-wop.
Her first solo album, “Experiment in White”, was released in 1981 followed by her sophomore project “At Home” that garnered a nomination for a Grammy Award for Best Female Jazz Vocalist. Siegel’s ongoing tenure with the Manhattan Transfer has won her 10 Grammy Awards and inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2003.
In 1985, Siegel joined Jon Hendricks, Bobby McFerrin and Dianne Reeves in the group called Sing, Sing, Sing; has recorded eleven albums as a solo artist working with such jazz luminaries as Russell Malone, Joey DeFrancesco, Hank Crawford, Matt Wilson Victor Lewis and Michael Brecker among others. She has recorded twenty-eight albums as a member of The Manhattan Transfer.
Vocalist Janis Siegel is currently a member of Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra, while simultaneously performing with The Manhattan Transfer and continuing a solo career.
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When Did You Leave Heaven was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1936 from the movie Sing Baby Sing. Richard A. Whiting and Walter Bullock composed the music and lyrics. Alice Faye, Adolphe Menjou, Gregory Ratoff, Ted Healy, Patsy Kelly and Paul Stanton.
The Story: Singer Joan Warren is fired from her job at the Ritz Club and seeks help from theatrical agent, Nicky Alexander. Taking her to Mr. Brewster, president of the Federal Broadcasting Company, she auditions but does not get the job due to upper class snobbery. Back at the club packing her bags she is convinced to audition for drunken actor Bruce Farraday. Pictures taken, scandal ensues and a radio contract is offered to Warren if Farraday will perform with her. Tricking Brewster into believing it to be true they plan to broadcast from Kansas City but Farraday exonerates Warren and honestly secures the radio contract for her.
Jimmy Scott was born JamesVictor Scott on July 17, 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio into a family of ten. As a child Jimmy got his first singing experience by his mother’s side at the family piano, and later, in church choir. At thirteen, he was orphaned after a drunk driver killed his mother.
He first rose to prominence as “Little Jimmy Scott”, a moniker given by Hampton when he was in the Lionel Hampton Band when he sang lead on the late 1940s hit “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool”, recorded in December 1949, and which became a top ten R&B hit in 1950, though label credit went to “Lionel Hampton. This omission of credit was not only a slight to Scott’s talent but a huge blow to his career. A similar professional insult occurred several years later when his vocal on “Embraceable You” with Charlie Parker, on the album One Night in Birdland, was credited to female vocalist Chubby Newsome.
By 1963 it looked as though Scott’s luck had changed: he signed to Ray Charles’ Tangerine Records label, under the supervision of Charles himself, creating what is considered by many to be one of the great jazz vocal albums of all time, Falling in Love is Wonderful. However, owing to obligations on an earlier contract that Scott had signed with Herman Lubinsky, the record was withdrawn in a matter of days, while Scott was on honeymoon. The album was not re-released for forty years. His career subsequently faded by the late 1960s and he returned to his native Cleveland to work as a hospital orderly, shipping clerk and as an elevator operator in a hotel.
In 1991 Scott eventually resurfaced when he sang at the funeral of his long-time friend Doc Pomus, an event that single-handedly sparked his career renaissance. Afterwards Lou Reed recruited him to sing backup on the track “Power and Glory” from his 1992 album Magic and Loss, which was inspired, to an extent, by Pomus’s death. That same year Sire Records released the album All The Way with Kenny Barron, Ron Carter and David “Fathead” Newman for which he was nominated for a Grammy. He followed this up with Dream, Heaven, Holding Back The Years, and in 1999, his early Decca and Savoy recordings were re-released on CD.
Scott’s career spanned sixty-five years and during that time he performed at the inaugurations of President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953) and President Bill Clinton (1993) performing the same song, “Why Was I Born?”. He has received an NEA Jazz Master Award, the Kennedy Center’s Jazz In Our Time Living Legend Award, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jazz Foundation of America, Inducted into the R&B Hall of Fame and conducted a “two-day video interview with the Smithsonian Institute for the National Archives.
Though he looked so young, and was short and of slight build, it was his extraordinary phrasing and romantic feeling that made him a favorite singer of fellow artists such as Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Frankie Valli, Dinah Washington, and Nancy Wilson. The list of luminaries he performed with is extensive but includes Quincy Jones, Sarah Vaughan, Fats Navarro, Bud Powell and numerous others. Vocalist Jimmy Scott passed away of cardiac arrest on June 12, 2014 at the age of 88. He was sleep at his home in Las Vegas.
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