Home > Genres > Jazz > Carmen McRae: A Star for Jazz

Carmen McRae: A Star for Jazz

Advertising Information for vagmusic

Carmen McRae is regarded as one of the most notable American jazz singers of the 20th Century. She was born in Harlem in 1920 and began her piano classes at an early age. The influence of both Teddy Wilson and his wife, Irene Kitchings Wilson, contributed to records, along with Wilson’s collaborator Billie Holiday, some of McRae early songs.

She was well-recognized when a great deal of modern jazz musicians gathered at Minton’s Playhouse. McRae became the intermission singer and pianist at various New York clubs. Until she was working in Brooklyn, she got the attention of Decca’s Milt Gabler, whom became her five year colleague yielding 12 LPs that many people considered jazz vocal classics. Among her most fascinating accomplishments include her participation with Louis Armstrong in Dave Brubeck’s the Real Ambassadors,and  her duets with Betty Carter. Throughout her career, her music style did not change very much, and ended it with great tributes to Thelonious Monk and Sarah Vaughan.

Some of the artists that had the opportunity to sing with her are Mercer Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Carter, Dave Brubeck, Sammy Davis Jr, and Louis Armstrong. Since she had a close and longtime friendship with Billie Holiday, she only performed when at least one song was related to Lady Day. As a leader, she had combined Billie’s influences as well as bebop to create her own style. McRae married and divorced the drummer Kenny Clarke in the 1940s.

Back to Jazz