Blossom Dearie


NEW YORK (AP) — Blossom Dearie, a classically trained pianist who transformed herself into a jazz singer with a unique baby-doll voice heard in New York and London cabarets for three decades, has died at 84.

Dearie died of natural causes Saturday at her Manhattan home, said her manager, Donald Schaffer. No specific cause of death was given.

"She lived for her music, and she lived to perform her music. She had impeccable taste," Schaffer said.

Born April 28, 1924, in East Durham, N.Y., Margrete Blossom Dearie dropped her first name to bolster a musical career that began with early training in piano and moved to jazz vocals. By the mid-1940s, she was a member of the Blue Flames, associated with Woody Herman's orchestra and with the Alvino Rey band.

Dearie began her solo career in postwar Paris. With an octet called the Blue Stars, she recorded a French version of the jazz standard "Lullaby of Birdland." She was briefly married to Belgian saxophonist Bobby Jaspar and later signed a six-album contract with jazz impresario Norman Granz, the owner of Verve Records. The New York Times called the resulting albums cult classics.

Dearie appeared regularly at London nightclubs in the 1960s. She founded her own label, Daffodil Records, in New York in 1974, writing the music to lyrics by Johnny Mercer and others. She gained national attention by appearing on NBC's "Today" show during its early years.

Dearie liked to poke fun at composers she thought pretentious or overrated. A favorite target was Andrew Lloyd Webber, responsible for the music for "Jesus Christ Superstar" and other hit musicals.

Her last record was the 2003 single "It's All Right to be Afraid," dedicated to victims and survivors of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. She last performed in 2006 at a cabaret in midtown Manhattan.

She is survived by an older brother, a niece and a nephew.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press

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It was as a student in the 1960s that I first encountered Blossom. She had a late night show on BBC radio. She became a much-valued friend. It was not just her music--especially, "Soon It's Gonna Rain", a particular favourite--but also her manner; gentle, confidential, lightly humourous--hers was the approach of a civil and uplifting presence I greatly needed in those very demanding days. I had a small room in the top floor of a North London (Muswell Hill) Rooming House. From there...

One of a kind is an overused phrase, but in Blossom Dearie's case it is spot-on. Everyone that enjoyed her music (in case they missed this one selection of hers) should listen to Gershwin's composition "Little Jazz Bird". This is a clear, quiet and snappy performance of a beautifully simple melody created by one of our best composers. To me this is emblematic of Blossom's wonderful work.

1 x 8 =8

2 x 8 = 16

3 x 8 = 24

4 x 8 = 32

and 5 x 8 = 40, you know

6 x 8 = 48

7 x 8 = 56

8 x 8 = 64

9 x 8 = 72

and 10 x 8 = 80, that's true

Unfortunately I didn't know blossom the jazz singer but blossom the singer of figure 8 from schoolhouse rock, I used to cry when I heard it at 7 years old not understanding that it was because her voice was so beautiful. I got into her music after she died but boy was she a beautiful spirit. Her voice was a gift.

I discovered Ms Dearie while on a flight, in 2003, I will forever be a fan. She will live on in our hearts. I was really saddened to hear of her passing.

Fell in love with this performer's albums and saddened that she left us before I had a chance to see her.

Because of you and Dorly Wang, I can always reach back and "Touch the Hand of Love"...immeasurable thanks.
Your soul shines brightly.

I remember going to a midtown gig with my wife to see Blossom. It was an intimate venue and we loved it and her music . I bought one of her cd's and she signed it for me and my partner. I loved her beautiful music, her playfulness and lyrical skill. I play her music and always think of her at the piano when I do , so assured and so brimming with joyful sound . Never forgotten her and so glad I met her. She has no equal.