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JAZZ INFLUENCED POP VOCALISTS  
Swing Music.Net Biography
Keely Smith
Keely Smith
Most well known as the straight duet partner of Louis Prima in the 1950s
As a solo jazz vocalist Keely sang mostly pop oriented material. Her greatest solo achievements were on albums for Capitol in the late 1950s backed by Nelson Riddle and Billy May
Keely Smith
Dorothy Jacqueline Keely
singer
Born Norfolk, Va., 3-9-1932
A living legend
JAZZ RADIO / JAZZ HISTORY
Radio Show Audio Archives
Streaming high quality copies of our weekly jazz radio shows available to internet listeners via RealOne Player. Radio the way it's supposed to be, unscripted and unrehearsed. Due to bandwidth limitations potato salad no longer included with transmission.

Our Jazz Radio Show Info Page
The sordid history of our weekly big band music radio show, live since 1985. Proves that FCC radio deregulation survival may be linked to narcissistically twisted disorders.

Pre Swing Era Jazz History
Early hot jazz bands, the hotel dance bands and early jazz history leading up to the Big Band era.

Pre Swing Era World Report
The role of economics, early recording technology, and radio relative to the conception of the Big Band era.

The Recording Ban Of 1942
Scans of a 1942 Down Beat magazine article detailing one of the most devastating events of the Big Band era; the James Petrillo / AFM recording ban.

Webb Cuts Basie At The Savoy
Another of the many historic jazz magazine articles from Down Beat here on the site. This piece details the Count Basie vs. Chick Webb big band music Battle Of Swing held at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom in January of 1938.

Beginning her career as the female singer in Louis Prima’s band, and later becoming famous as one half of their hugely successful Las Vegas lounge act, Keely Smith's early achievements were tied to someone or something else.

Now in her 70s, she has found the renewed interest and acknowledgment of her own talent to be immensely gratifying. "I’m thrilled that the resurgence is of my career by myself because for many years everything I did was with Louis, and now all of a sudden I’m being recognized on my own and that really is the ultimate for me," she recounted to the Los Angeles Times.

Throughout the 1950s, Louis Prima and Keely Smith were the undisputed King & Queen of Las Vegas and have been credited with essentially inventing the modern lounge act. Performing five shows a night at the Sahara’s Casbar Lounge, they became a huge draw for both the average blue-collar tourists as well as some of the biggest celebrities at that time. On any given night, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Spencer Tracy, Gary Cooper, Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner, Howard Hughes, and the young Senator John F. Kennedy could be found in the audience. Many of the show business elite would add to the audience’s enjoyment of the show by affably heckling the duo and sometimes even getting up on stage to join the act.

During this period, Capitol Records issued a series of chart-topping albums that consisted of abridged versions of Louis Prima and Keely Smith’s beloved nightclub act. In addition, Keely released I Wish You Love, a solo debut that confirmed her own star power by receiving a GRAMMY nomination and selling over a million copies. Keely’s appeal and renown is just as strong today, having survived several decades, various musical trends and the fickle nature of the entertainment industry. Actor Robert DeNiro and director Martin Scorcese have been long-time fans of Keely’s and over the years have placed her music in numerous films, including “The Deerhunter,” “Raging Bull,” “Analyze This,” “That Old Feeling,” “Big Night” and “Mad Dog and Glory.”

The revival of the swing movement in the late ‘90s inspired The Gap retail chain to use Louis Prima’s signature tune, "Jump, Jive and Wail" in one of its popular ad campaigns. This renewed interest in swing and big band music also led to an invitation for Keely to perform at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, where she sang to a jam-packed crowd of admirers, both young and old. Most recently, Keely has performed to SRO audiences across the country, including a five-night stop in Atlantic City and a stint at Feinstein’s at the Regency in New York City. Talks are currently underway to book Keely into Caesar’s in Las Vegas, bringing her back full circle to where it all began.

Keely Smith is currently writing her autobiography, which has been a work in progress for several years. "I started it about four years ago and then put it aside," she explains. "When I read it, I wasn’t sure if I liked what I had written, but now I’ve started on it again. I want to do it with complete honesty, or not at all." And there are certainly plenty of lifetime experiences to chronicle: winning one of the first-ever Grammy Awards in 1959, performing at President Kennedy’s inauguration, receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and friendships with everyone from The Rat Pack to Elvis Presley.

"I have been very blessed in my life," says Keely Smith reflecting back. And as she looks towards the future, there are even more accolades to receive and sold-out shows still to come. In October of 2000 in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, The Cherokee Honor Society will bestow Keely with its prestigious Cherokee Medal of Honor. "It’s the highest recognition that can be bestowed to a woman in the Cherokee nation," she states proudly. The Medal of Honor is given out annually to recipients whose achievements bring pride and honor to the Cherokee nation and community.

The incomparable Tony Bennett has gone on record naming Keely Smith "one of the greatest jazz-pop singers of all time." What better candidate then to honor Count Basie, one of the greatest bandleaders of all time. Further expanding her audience and repertoire, Keely Smith once again pays tribute to an important figure in her life with class, respect, and above all, an immense display of pure talent. Merv Griffin says it best—“Keely is awesome!”

JAZZ VOCALIST BIOGRAPHIES
Anita O’Day Biography
Not your typical big band “canary” Anita’s voice was heard soaring over the brassy bands of Gene Krupa and Stan Kenton during the Swing era. She later released a number of fine swinging albums for Norman Granz on his Clef, Norgran and Verve record labels. She died 11-23-06 at 87.

Ray Charles Biography
Known as "The Genius" Ray Charles recorded a wide variety of music but got his start playing big band music and jazz. He passed away 6-10-04.

Shirley Horn Biography
Shirley Horn predated Dianna Krall and Harry Connick Jr.as the premiere singing pianist in jazz since Nat "King" Cole. The use of pauses and breaks in her playing and singing ala Basie and Ahmad Jamal conveyed a relaxed, confident feeling of swing. She passed away in October of 2005.

Louis Armstrong Biography
The trumpet solos and vocals of the great Satchmo are the most identifiable in jazz. This biography traces the career of Louis Armstrong from his days in New Orleans.

Dakota Staton Biography
In her early career Dakota Staton showed the influences of Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan. In later years her huskier tone leaned more toward blues and gospel. Discography is included.

Nina Simone Biography
Nina Simone was a classically trained pianist who switched to jazz. Throughout her career she crossed over into many other genres of music.

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