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Kay Starr (1922 - 2016)

Getty / Michael Ochs Archives

Kay Starr (1922 - 2016)

Kay Starr, a pop and jazz singer who was most popular in the 1950s, died Nov. 3, 2016, at her home in Los Angeles, according to multiple news sources, including The New York Times. She was 94.

Starr had two No. 1 hit songs in the 1950s, “Wheel of Fortune” and “The Rock and Roll Waltz.” She had her roots in jazz vocals, but she was also successful singing pop and country music.

Starr was born on an American Indian reservation in Oklahoma. Her father was Iroquois, and her mother was of American Indian and Irish heritage. She started singing as a child, and she had her own radio show at a young age. When Starr was 15, she was chosen to sing with the Joe Venuti Orchestra and her career took off from there.


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In 1947, Starr signed a contract with Capitol Records. Her 1950 cover of the song “Bonaparte’s Retreat” was one of her first hit songs. She had her biggest hit song of her career in 1952 with “Wheel of Fortune.” She also appeared on the television variety series “Club Oasis.”

In her later years, she sang a duet with Tony Bennett for his 2001 album “Playin’ With My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues.”

She was still singing live as recently as this year.

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