Billie Holiday was the first jazz singer I ever heard, and at 13, it was electrifying. Her facile voice, her emotive delivery, and the way she makes it sound so easy all intoxicated me. She is the reason I sing jazz. She never had an easy road, and you can hear her every inflection filled with memory and passion.
If this song doesn't give you goosebumps, you've never been in love and I despair for you. Find love, find it quick, and when you do, listen to Billie.
Billie Holiday, My Man
Nina Simone is that raw, fierce, unbridled energy that comes from having your heart broken one too many times and deciding to scream about it rather than curl up and hide. She puts herself into her music. She sings her life.
Nina Simone, My Man's Gone Now
Bessie Smith is also known as The Empress of Blues. She paved the way for female jazz and blues singers alike, and is still heralded for her incredibly unique voice and forceful presentation. Fucking love her.
Bessie Smith, A Good Man is Hard to Find
Lena Horne has a beautifully pure and technically perfect voice. She embodies the Old Hollywood musical ideal; elegant perfomance style, a tightly controlled vibrato, and a range that could make buffaloes weep with envy.
Lena Horne, Stormy Weather
Peggy Lee is best known for Fever, and with good reason. Damn can that woman make sex with her voice! But here she is, with her husband, guitarist Dave Barbour, making nice and singing a beautiful love song. If you want to create a romantic atmosphere, light some candles, grab your lover, and sway to this song for a little.
Peggy Lee, I Only Have Eyes for You
Ah. The best for last. The First Lady of Song. The woman that I wish I could be. Ella. Ella Ella Ella. She is the smoothest of silk. She makes two octave runs sounds like playschool. She puts the Scat Man to shame. She is the biggest influence in my musical life, and I hope I can meet her in the great whatever one day.
I can't choose just one for her. I don't want to have to.
Ella Fitzgerald, Cry Me A River
Now do yourself a solid and listen to how it should be sung. (Scarlett Johanson needs to stick with being a live pin-up girl and step away from the Summertime.)
Ella Fitzgerald, Summertime
2 months ago