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Kitty Kallen Obituary

1922 - 2016
Kitty Kallen (Everett Collection)
Kitty Kallen, a pop singer during the swing era whose best-known solo recording was 1954's "Little Things Mean a Lot," died Jan. 7 at her home in Cuernavaca, Mexico. She was 93.

Kallen was born Katherine Kalinsky May 25, 1922, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Long before recording as a solo artist, she was singing for some of the greatest big bands.

Johnny Whiteside, a music historian with the Los Angeles Times, described Kallen as a "gifted child with an expressive voice," so good that she had "her own radio show on Philadelphia's WCAU at age 11." Five years later, she would go on sing for bandleaders Artie Shaw, Harry James and Jimmy Dorsey. With them, she recorded such hits as "Besame Mucho," "I'm Beginning To See the Light" and "It's Been a Long, Long Time," which is linked heavily to the return of the troops at the end of World War II.

But with her 1954 solo hit, which went to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart of the top songs in the U.S., Kallen was voted most popular female singer in polls conducted by Variety and Billboard.

She continued to record, but she didn't reach the top 20 in the U.S. Hot 100 chart until 1962's "My Coloring Book," which reached No. 18.