Carmen McRae

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Carmen McRae_table_infobox_0

Carmen McRaeCarmen McRae_header_cell_0_0_0
Background informationCarmen McRae_header_cell_0_1_0
Birth nameCarmen McRae_header_cell_0_2_0 Carmen Mercedes McRaeCarmen McRae_cell_0_2_1
BornCarmen McRae_header_cell_0_3_0 (1920-04-08)April 8, 1920

Harlem, New York, U.S.Carmen McRae_cell_0_3_1

DiedCarmen McRae_header_cell_0_4_0 November 10, 1994(1994-11-10) (aged 74)

Beverly Hills, California, U.S.Carmen McRae_cell_0_4_1

GenresCarmen McRae_header_cell_0_5_0 Jazz, vocal jazz, traditional popCarmen McRae_cell_0_5_1
Occupation(s)Carmen McRae_header_cell_0_6_0 Singer, musicianCarmen McRae_cell_0_6_1
InstrumentsCarmen McRae_header_cell_0_7_0 Vocals, pianoCarmen McRae_cell_0_7_1
Years activeCarmen McRae_header_cell_0_8_0 1939–1991Carmen McRae_cell_0_8_1
LabelsCarmen McRae_header_cell_0_9_0 Decca, Kapp, Columbia, Mainstream, Atlantic, Blue Note, Concord, NovusCarmen McRae_cell_0_9_1
Associated actsCarmen McRae_header_cell_0_10_0 Jack Pleis, Sammy Davis, Jr., Billie Holiday, Norman Simmons, Cal Tjader, George Shearing, Dave BrubeckCarmen McRae_cell_0_10_1

Carmen Mercedes McRae (April 8, 1920 – November 10, 1994) was an American jazz singer. Carmen McRae_sentence_0

She is considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century and is remembered for her behind-the-beat phrasing and ironic interpretation of lyrics. Carmen McRae_sentence_1

McRae was inspired by Billie Holiday, but she established her own voice. Carmen McRae_sentence_2

She recorded over sixty albums and performed worldwide. Carmen McRae_sentence_3

Early life and education Carmen McRae_section_0

McRae was born in Harlem, New York City, United States. Carmen McRae_sentence_4

Her father, Osmond, and mother, Evadne (Gayle) McRae, were immigrants from Jamaica. Carmen McRae_sentence_5

She began studying piano when she was eight, and the music of jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington filled her home. Carmen McRae_sentence_6

When she was 17 years old, she met singer Billie Holiday. Carmen McRae_sentence_7

As a teenager McRae came to the attention of Teddy Wilson and his wife, the composer Irene Kitchings. Carmen McRae_sentence_8

One of McRae's early songs, "Dream of Life", was, through their influence, recorded in 1939 by Wilson’s long-time collaborator Billie Holiday. Carmen McRae_sentence_9

McRae considered Holiday to be her primary influence. Carmen McRae_sentence_10

She was a lifelong active Democrat. Carmen McRae_sentence_11

Early career Carmen McRae_section_1

In her late teens and early twenties, McRae played piano at a New York City club called Minton's Playhouse, Harlem's most famous jazz club, sang as a chorus girl, and worked as a secretary. Carmen McRae_sentence_12

It was at Minton's where she met trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, bassist Oscar Pettiford, and drummer Kenny Clarke, had her first important job as a pianist with Benny Carter's big band (1944), worked with Count Basie (1944) and under the name "Carmen Clarke" (having married Kenny Clarke) made her first recording as pianist with the Mercer Ellington Band (1946–47). Carmen McRae_sentence_13

But it was while working in Brooklyn that she came to the attention of Decca’s Milt Gabler. Carmen McRae_sentence_14

Her five-year association with Decca yielded 12 LPs. Carmen McRae_sentence_15

Chicago interlude Carmen McRae_section_2

In 1948, she moved to Chicago with comedian and impressionist George Kirby, with whom she had fallen in love. Carmen McRae_sentence_16

At the end of the relationship, she worked as a pianist and singer at the Archway Lounge. Carmen McRae_sentence_17

She played piano steadily for almost four years at a number of clubs in Chicago before returning to New York in 1952. Carmen McRae_sentence_18

In Chicago she developed her own specific style. Carmen McRae_sentence_19

Those years in Chicago, McRae told Jazz Forum, "gave me whatever it is that I have now. Carmen McRae_sentence_20

That's the most prominent schooling I ever had." Carmen McRae_sentence_21

Return to New York Carmen McRae_section_3

Back in New York in the early 1950s, McRae got the record contract that launched her career. Carmen McRae_sentence_22

She was voted best new female vocalist of 1954 by DownBeat magazine. Carmen McRae_sentence_23

MacRae married twice: to drummer Kenny Clarke from 1944 to 1956, though they separated in 1948; and to bassist Ike Isaacs in the late 1950s. Carmen McRae_sentence_24

Both marriages ended in divorce. Carmen McRae_sentence_25

Among her most interesting recording projects were Mad About The Man (1957) with composer Noël Coward, Boy Meets Girl (1957) with Sammy Davis, Jr., participating in Dave Brubeck's The Real Ambassadors (1961) with Louis Armstrong, a tribute album You're Lookin' at Me (A Collection of Nat King Cole Songs) (1983), cutting an album of live duets with Betty Carter, The Carmen McRae-Betty Carter Duets (1987), being accompanied by Dave Brubeck and George Shearing, and closing her career with tributes to Thelonious Monk, Carmen Sings Monk (1990), and Sarah Vaughan, Sarah: Dedicated to You (1991). Carmen McRae_sentence_26

As a result of her early friendship with Billie Holiday, she never performed without singing at least one song associated with "Lady Day", and she recorded an album in 1983 in her honor entitled For Lady Day, which was released in 1995, with songs including "Good Morning Heartache", "Them There Eyes", "Lover Man", "God Bless the Child" and "Don't Explain". Carmen McRae_sentence_27

McRae also recorded with some of the world's best jazz musicians in albums such as Take Five Live (1961) with Dave Brubeck, Two for the Road (1980) with George Shearing, and Heat Wave (1982) with Cal Tjader. Carmen McRae_sentence_28

The latter two albums were part of a notable eight-year relationship with Concord Jazz. Carmen McRae_sentence_29

Performances Carmen McRae_section_4

McRae sang in jazz clubs throughout the United States—and across the world—for more than fifty years. Carmen McRae_sentence_30

She was a popular performer at the Monterey Jazz Festival (1961–63, 1966, 1971, 1973, 1982), performing with Duke Ellington's orchestra at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1980, singing "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", and at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1989. Carmen McRae_sentence_31

She left New York for Southern California in the late 1960s, but appeared in New York regularly, usually at the Blue Note, where she performed two engagements a year through most of the 1980s. Carmen McRae_sentence_32

In May–June 1988, she collaborated with Harry Connick Jr. on the song "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone" (S. Clare & S. Stept) in New York City at the RCA Studios, for Connick's debut album, 20. Carmen McRae_sentence_33

She withdrew from public performance in May 1991 after an episode of respiratory failure only hours after she completed an engagement at the Blue Note jazz club in New York. Carmen McRae_sentence_34

Death Carmen McRae_section_5

On November 10, 1994, McRae died at her home in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 74. Carmen McRae_sentence_35

She had fallen into a semi-coma four days earlier, a month after being hospitalized for a stroke. Carmen McRae_sentence_36

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Carmen McRae among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire. Carmen McRae_sentence_37

Awards Carmen McRae_section_6

Carmen McRae_table_general_1

Carmen McRae Grammy Award RecognitionsCarmen McRae_cell_1_0_0
YearCarmen McRae_header_cell_1_1_0 CategoryCarmen McRae_header_cell_1_1_1 TitleCarmen McRae_header_cell_1_1_2 LabelCarmen McRae_header_cell_1_1_3 ResultCarmen McRae_header_cell_1_1_4
1971Carmen McRae_cell_1_2_0 Best Jazz Performance - SoloistCarmen McRae_cell_1_2_1 Carmen McRaeCarmen McRae_cell_1_2_2 AtlanticCarmen McRae_cell_1_2_3 NomineeCarmen McRae_cell_1_2_4
1977Carmen McRae_cell_1_3_0 Best Jazz Vocal PerformanceCarmen McRae_cell_1_3_1 At the Great American Music HallCarmen McRae_cell_1_3_2 Blue NoteCarmen McRae_cell_1_3_3 NomineeCarmen McRae_cell_1_3_4
1984Carmen McRae_cell_1_4_0 Best Jazz Vocal PerformanceCarmen McRae_cell_1_4_1 You're Lookin' at Me (A Collection of Nat King Cole Songs)Carmen McRae_cell_1_4_2 Concord JazzCarmen McRae_cell_1_4_3 NomineeCarmen McRae_cell_1_4_4
1987Carmen McRae_cell_1_5_0 Best Jazz Vocal Performance - FemaleCarmen McRae_cell_1_5_1 Any Old TimeCarmen McRae_cell_1_5_2 DenonCarmen McRae_cell_1_5_3 NomineeCarmen McRae_cell_1_5_4
1988Carmen McRae_cell_1_6_0 Best Jazz Vocal Performance - Duo or GroupCarmen McRae_cell_1_6_1 The Carmen McRae-Betty Carter DuetsCarmen McRae_cell_1_6_2 Great American Music HallCarmen McRae_cell_1_6_3 NomineeCarmen McRae_cell_1_6_4
1988Carmen McRae_cell_1_7_0 Best Jazz Vocal Performance - FemaleCarmen McRae_cell_1_7_1 Fine and MellowCarmen McRae_cell_1_7_2 Concord JazzCarmen McRae_cell_1_7_3 NomineeCarmen McRae_cell_1_7_4
1990Carmen McRae_cell_1_8_0 Best Jazz Vocal Performance - FemaleCarmen McRae_cell_1_8_1 Carmen Sings MonkCarmen McRae_cell_1_8_2 NovusCarmen McRae_cell_1_8_3 NomineeCarmen McRae_cell_1_8_4

Discography Carmen McRae_section_7

Carmen McRae_unordered_list_0

  • A Foggy Day with Carmen McCrae (Stardust, 1953)Carmen McRae_item_0_0
  • Carmen McRae (Bethlehem, 1955)Carmen McRae_item_0_1
  • By Special Request (Decca, 1956)Carmen McRae_item_0_2
  • Torchy! (Decca, 1956)Carmen McRae_item_0_3
  • Blue Moon (Decca, 1956)Carmen McRae_item_0_4
  • Boy Meets Girl with Sammy Davis Jr. (Decca, 1957)Carmen McRae_item_0_5
  • After Glow (Decca, 1957)Carmen McRae_item_0_6
  • Mad About the Man - Carmen McRae Sings Noel Coward (Decca, 1958)Carmen McRae_item_0_7
  • Carmen for Cool Ones (Decca, 1958)Carmen McRae_item_0_8
  • Birds of a Feather (Decca, 1958)Carmen McRae_item_0_9
  • Porgy and Bess with Sammy Davis Jr. (Decca, 1959)Carmen McRae_item_0_10
  • My Foolish Heart (Vocalion, 1969), compilation of Decca recordingsCarmen McRae_item_0_11
  • Book of Ballads (Kapp, 1959)Carmen McRae_item_0_12
  • When You're Away (Kapp, 1959)Carmen McRae_item_0_13
  • Performing Music from the Subterraneans by André Previn with Gerry Mulligan, McRae on one track (MGM, 1960)Carmen McRae_item_0_14
  • Something to Swing About (Kapp, 1960)Carmen McRae_item_0_15
  • Play Dave Brubeck's Points on Jazz with Gold and Fizdale (Columbia, 1961)Carmen McRae_item_0_16
  • Tonight Only! with Dave Brubeck (Columbia, 1961)Carmen McRae_item_0_17
  • Carmen McRae at the Flamingo Jazz Club a.k.a. In London (Ember (UK), 1961)Carmen McRae_item_0_18
  • Carmen McRae Sings Lover Man and Other Billie Holiday Classics (Columbia, 1962)Carmen McRae_item_0_19
  • Take Five Live with Dave Brubeck (Columbia, 1962)Carmen McRae_item_0_20
  • The Real Ambassadors (Columbia Masterworks 1962)Carmen McRae_item_0_21
  • Something Wonderful (Columbia, 1963)Carmen McRae_item_0_22
  • Live at Sugar Hill San Francisco a.k.a. In Person (Time, 1963)Carmen McRae_item_0_23
  • Bittersweet (Focus, 1964)Carmen McRae_item_0_24
  • Second to None (Mainstream, 1964)Carmen McRae_item_0_25
  • Haven't We Met? (Mainstream, 1965)Carmen McRae_item_0_26
  • Woman Talk (Mainstream, 1966)Carmen McRae_item_0_27
  • Alfie (Mainstream, 1966)Carmen McRae_item_0_28
  • For Once in My Life (Atlantic, 1967)Carmen McRae_item_0_29
  • Portrait of Carmen (Atlantic, 1968)Carmen McRae_item_0_30
  • The Sound of Silence (Atlantic, 1968)Carmen McRae_item_0_31
  • "Live" & Wailing (Mainstream, 1968), recorded 1965Carmen McRae_item_0_32
  • Just a Little Lovin' (Atlantic, 1970)Carmen McRae_item_0_33
  • Carmen McRae (Mainstream, 1971), recordings from 1965 and 1966Carmen McRae_item_0_34
  • Carmen's Gold (Mainstream, 1971)Carmen McRae_item_0_35
  • Carmen (Temponic, 1972)Carmen McRae_item_0_36
  • The Great American Songbook: Live at Donte's (Atlantic, 1972)Carmen McRae_item_0_37
  • Alive! (Mainstream, 1973), compilation of Woman Talk and Live & WailingCarmen McRae_item_0_38
  • It Takes a Whole Lot of Human Feeling (Groove Merchant, 1973), re-released combined with Ms. Jazz since 1975 as Velvet SoulCarmen McRae_item_0_39
  • Ms. Jazz (Groove Merchant, 1974)Carmen McRae_item_0_40
  • As Time Goes By - Carmen McRae Alone, Live at the Dug (Victor, 1974)Carmen McRae_item_0_41
  • Live and Doin' It (Mainstream, 1974)Carmen McRae_item_0_42
  • I Am Music (Blue Note, 1975)Carmen McRae_item_0_43
  • Live at Century Plaza (Atlantic, 1975), recorded 1968Carmen McRae_item_0_44
  • November Girl with Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band (Black Lion, 1975), recorded 1970Carmen McRae_item_0_45
  • Can't Hide Love (Blue Note, 1976)Carmen McRae_item_0_46
  • At the Great American Music Hall (Blue Note, 1977)Carmen McRae_item_0_47
  • Ronnie Scott's Presents Carmen McRae Live (Pye, 1977)Carmen McRae_item_0_48
  • Blue Note Meets the L.A. Philharmonic (Blue Note, 1978), four songs by McRaeCarmen McRae_item_0_49
  • Jazz Gala 79 a.k.a. Live at MIDEM (Personal Choice, 1979)Carmen McRae_item_0_50
  • I'm Coming Home Again (Buddha, 1980)Carmen McRae_item_0_51
  • Two for the Road with George Shearing (Concord Jazz, 1980)Carmen McRae_item_0_52
  • Recorded Live at Bubba's (Who's Who in Jazz, 1981)Carmen McRae_item_0_53
  • Ms. Magic (Accord, 1982), recorded 1978, also on re-release of I'm Coming Home Again, same sessionsCarmen McRae_item_0_54
  • Love Songs (Accord, 1982), like Ms. MagicCarmen McRae_item_0_55
  • Heat Wave with Cal Tjader (Concord Jazz, 1982)Carmen McRae_item_0_56
  • I Hear Music with Chris Connor (Affinity, 1983)Carmen McRae_item_0_57
  • You're Lookin' at Me (A Collection of Nat King Cole Songs) (Concord Jazz, 1984)Carmen McRae_item_0_58
  • Any Old Time (Denon, 1986)Carmen McRae_item_0_59
  • The Carmen McRae-Betty Carter Duets (Great American Music Hall, 1988)Carmen McRae_item_0_60
  • Fine and Mellow: Live at Birdland West (Concord Jazz, 1988)Carmen McRae_item_0_61
  • Carmen Sings Monk (Novus, 1990), Grammy nominatedCarmen McRae_item_0_62
  • Sarah: Dedicated to You (Novus, 1991)Carmen McRae_item_0_63
  • New York State of Mind: Live at Bird (Victor (Jp), 1992), recorded 1989Carmen McRae_item_0_64
  • For Lady Day Volume 1 (Novus, 1995), recorded 1981Carmen McRae_item_0_65
  • For Lady Day Volume 2 (Novus, 1995), recorded 1981Carmen McRae_item_0_66
  • Everything Happens to Me (Jazz Hour, 1997), recorded live at Montreux Jazz Festival 1982Carmen McRae_item_0_67
  • Dream of Life (Qwest, 1998), recorded 1989Carmen McRae_item_0_68
  • Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday at Newport (Verve, 2001), recorded 1958, re-release with McRaeCarmen McRae_item_0_69
  • At Ratso's Volume 1 (Hitchcock Media, 2002), recorded 1976Carmen McRae_item_0_70
  • At Ratso's Volume 2 (Hitchcock Media, 2002), recorded 1976Carmen McRae_item_0_71
  • Live at Umbria Jazz (Egea, 2002), recorded live at Umbria Jazz Festival 1990Carmen McRae_item_0_72
  • Marion McPartland's Piano Jazz (The Jazz Alliance, 2002), recorded 1985Carmen McRae_item_0_73
  • Last Live in Tokyo (DVD, Nippon Crown, 2004), recorded 1989Carmen McRae_item_0_74
  • I'm Coming Home Again (Essential Media 2008)Carmen McRae_item_0_75

Filmography Carmen McRae_section_8

Films Carmen McRae_section_9

Carmen McRae_unordered_list_1

Television Carmen McRae_section_10

Carmen McRae_unordered_list_2

  • 1976: SoulCarmen McRae_item_2_80
  • 1976: Sammy and CompanyCarmen McRae_item_2_81
  • 1979: Carmen McRae in ConcertCarmen McRae_item_2_82
  • 1979: Roots: The Next GenerationsCarmen McRae_item_2_83
  • 1980: From JumpstreetCarmen McRae_item_2_84
  • 1981: At the PalaceCarmen McRae_item_2_85
  • 1981: Billie Holiday. A TributeCarmen McRae_item_2_86
  • 1982: L. A. JazzCarmen McRae_item_2_87

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: McRae.