Durham - Legendary Jazz Chanteuse, Bobbi Rogers (Barbara Anderson), died peacefully at home, in the wee hours of New Year's Day, Jan 1, 2013, surrounded by her family and her music in Durham
"a voice as soft and perfect as a peach blossom in May" ~ Rex Reed, New York Daily News
Although Bobbi was a registered nurse for 45 years, she is best known for her extraordinarily singular singing style. Three recorded albums brought rave reviews from acclaimed jazz critics such as Rex Reed, Richard Sudhalter, John Wilson and Owen McNally. Bobbi recorded with many noteworthy musicians, among them, Gene Bertoncini, Dave McKenna, and Ray and Tom Kennedy. For more than 75 years, Bobbi Rogers thrilled audiences in venues across the country and in Europe, including the famed Copacabana and Michael's Pub in Manhattan and Pat O'Brien's in New Orleans.
She performed in and for numerous clubs, auditoriums, theaters, inaugural balls, royal audiences, charity events and casinos throughout her life. She traveled with several different bands to perform with the U.S.O across the Eastern Seaboard at military installations, including, West Point and Annapolis. Bobbi Rogers and the Hartford Jazz Orchestra played regular weekly gigs at The Arch Street Tavern in Hartford, for nearly 20 years. A remarkable figure in the world of jazz, Bobbi did not sing so much as convey her music in such a way that it left audiences breathless, as if each note she sang was performed directly and solely for each individual listener.
A graduate of Murphy High School, Mobile, Ala. in 1949, Bobbi received a scholarship to Providence College of Nursing, Mobile, Ala. in 1953 and interned as a nurse at The Sister's of Charity Hospital in New Orleans, La. She received an associate's degree from Middlesex Community College in 1971, a bachelor's degree from Central Connecticut State University in 1973 and a master's degree in psychology from Central Connecticut State University in 1985. In addition to being a clinical staff nurse, a pediatric nurse, a psychiatric nurse and a medical surgical nurse, the indefatigable Bobbi was also an instructor for both the Practical Nurse Education Program and the CNA program at Middlesex Hospital, Middletown. During the 1950's, she took a short hiatus from hospital work and moved to New York City where between per diem nursing jobs, she auditioned, sang, modeled and acted for film and television. She also trained with renowned vocal coach, John Quinlan, Frank Sinatra's sole vocal coach. Bobbi seamlessly blended both professions for over four decades. When asked why she never considered giving up nursing for the stage, she replied, "I suffered from the romantic delusion that I might have a patient who was a producer and would reward my tender ministrations with a musical contract." And, did she ever meet any sick producers? "Yes," she admitted dejectedly, "But never in a hospital."
Born Barbara Anne Wagner, Jan. 24, 1931, in New London, to Mary Elizabeth (Lloyd) Wagner and Ralph Wagner, she is survived by her only son, Kristian Lloyd Anderson; two beloved granddaughters, Emily Anderson and Katrina Anderson of Durham; her future daughter-in-law and dear friend, Lili; ˜adopted kids' Tracey Cadrain and Rob Cadrain of New Britain; and many loving family members, special friends, fellow musicians and adoring fans.
Her former husband and life-long friend, Clifford "Bud" Anderson of New Britain; and her long-time companion, composer and bandleader, Charles "Chick'" Chichetti of Waterbury, predeceased Bobbi in 1999.
The much-admired jazz critic for the New York Post, Richard Sudhalter, wrote about Bobbi Rogers, "Above all, there is to her singing a strong sense of personal identity and a musical wisdom which can only be gained by having lived a while." Bobbi Rogers lived a brilliant life. We will miss you Songbird.
The family of Bobbi Rogers would like to extend their enormous gratitude to the amazing nurses, caregivers and volunteers from Middlesex Hospice and Palliative Care. Thank you for your dedication and compassion.
There will be no funereal services. A "Celebration of the Life of Bobbi Rogers" will be held in May 2013. Burial will be at the convenience of the family at Mica Hill in Durham.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to â€˜The Bobbi Rogers Memorial Scholarship Fund" c/o Citizen's Bank, 376 Main St, Durham, CT 06422. Scholarship funds will be available to students interested in entering the field of nursing or the musical arts.
Published in The Day on Jan. 5, 2013.