See and hear Carmen
NY Times Obit
CARMEN McRAE, the definitive website
This site is a tribute to one of the best – if not THE best – jazz singers in the history of the genre.
Eight years younger than her idol, Billie Holiday, Carmen McRae was a contemporary of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan. Ella and Sarah were already well established by the time Carmen came onto the scene, but it wasn’t long before Carmen was considered their artistic equal, although she never achieved their wide popularity. She never had a huge hit nor did she ever receive a Grammy. But, on the other hand, she never made a bad record nor compromised her high standards.
Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan inspired awe with their vocal prowess. Ella – with her perfect pitch and unerring sense of time – could reproduce any instrumental jazz riff, and Sarah – with her multi-octave range and ultra-flexible voice – could change octave and color on a single note. Carmen, however, could bring a tear to the eye or a lump to the throat, with her reading of a lyric. That was her great talent. She combined the ability to project the emotional connotations of a song with a musical intelligence that was derived in part from her knowledge of the piano.
strives to present a complete picture of Carmen McRae the artist.
The biography is approached in several ways – from the perfunctory listing in the Grove
Dictionary of Jazz to a timeline from Leslie Gourse’s book, Miss Jazz,
to audio clips from NPR interviews with Carmen.
Carol Sloane and Hammond Guthrie tell charming stories of their first
encounter with the singer and colleagues such as Mundell Lowe, who played
guitar on Carmen's first major recording, and John Clayton, who led his orchestra
on one of her last albums, speak about her artistry. (See Friends and
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