Blossom Dearie: My New Celebrity Is You

If ever the outmoded appellation "girl singer" applied to anyone, it was Blossom Dearie, given the gentle, little-girl quality of her voice. An acquired taste, much like her friends and sometime co-performers and collaborators Bob Dorough and Dave Frishberg, she also shared their acutely hip approaches to song and their surprisingly forceful bop-based abilities as pianists. In 1974, Dearie formed her own record company, a path also taken by Betty Carter, Anita O'Day and others when prospects to record elsewhere looked bleak. The third release by Dearie's Daffodil Records included Johnny Mercer's final composition, written especially for her.

"My New Celebrity Is You" features perhaps the ultimate in endless name-dropping lyrics (even so, Frishberg managed to add to them when he sang with Dearie a few years later). Dearie sings the 20 non-recurring stanzas with relish, obviously enjoying Mercer's wordplay and unlikely juxtapositions of celebrity references (many by now passť).

        I've sung with Ethel Merman
        Swung with Woody Herman
        Played a gig in Germany with Ogerman too
        I nodded at a sermon Billy Graham barely got through
        But anyone can see My New Celebrity Is You.

And that's just one example out of 20. Laws, Carter, Tate, and Devins are all outstanding in their unflinchingly enthusiastic supporting roles, and if you listen closely, Dearie's keyboard phrasings occasionally penetrate the percolating instrumental blend, sounding for all the world like a harpsichord. (Is it?)

Marguerite Blossom Dearie, a unique talent, died February 7, 2009, at the age of 82.

February 11, 2009 · 2 comments


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