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June Christy

Though she was the epitome of the vocal cool movement of the 1950s, June Christy was a warm, chipper vocalist able to stretch out her impressive voice on bouncy swing tunes and set herself apart from other vocalists with her deceptively simple enunciation. From her time in Stan Kenton's Orchestra, she inherited a focus on brassy swing from arranger friends like Pete Rugolo. Rugolo would become a consistent companion far into her solo days, too, arranging most of her LPs and balancing her gymnastic vocal abilities with a series of attentive charts.

Born Shirley Luster in Springfield, IL, she began singing early on and appeared with a local society band during high school. She moved to Chicago in the early '40s, changed her name to Sharon Leslie, and sang with a group led by Boyd Raeburn. In 1945, after hearing that Anita O'Day had just left Stan Kenton's Orchestra, she auditioned for the role and got it early that year. Despite an early resemblance (physically and vocally) to O'Day, the singer -- renamed June Christy -- soon found her own style: a warm, chipper voice that stretched out beautifully and enlivened Kenton's crossover novelties ("Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy," the million-selling "Tampico") as well as the leader's intricately arranged standards ("How High the Moon"). As she became more and more popular within the Kenton band, arranger Pete Rugolo began writing charts with her style especially in mind. After the Kenton orchestra broke up in 1948, Christy worked the nightclub circuit for awhile before reuniting with Kenton for his 1950 Innovations in Modern Music Orchestra, a very modern 40-piece group that toured America. She had already debuted as a solo act the year before, recording for Capitol with a group led by her husband, Kenton tenor saxophonist Bob Cooper.

Christy's debut LP for Capitol, 1954's Something Cool, was recorded with Rugolo at the head of the orchestra. The album launched the vocal cool movement and hit the Top 20 album charts in America, as did a follow-up, The Misty Miss Christy. Her 1955 Duet LP paired her voice with Kenton's piano, while most of her Capitol LPs featured her with various Kenton personnel and Rugolo (or Bob Cooper) at the head of the orchestra. She reprised her earlier big-band days with 1959's June Christy Recalls Those Kenton Days, and recorded a raft of concept LPs before retiring in 1965. Christy returned to the studio only once, for 1977's Impromptu on Musicraft. ~ John Bush, Rovi
full bio

Comments

One of my first LP's as a teen was"Somethin g Cool" and It was great to find the updated CD. Now I can listen any time, any place. Thank you.
lajollabill
When I was young and foolish, as we all were, we headed for the Rendezvous Ballroom in Balboa in the summertime and listened to and danced to the Kenton orchestra, and the whole crew - especially the songstress, stage front. In those days you could literally stand right up next to the bandstand, and if so inclined reach out and virtually touch the singer. It was a thrill to watch and listen to the band play music which you had at home and played on those 78's almost 'till the groves wore out.
junezunimoon
Love June. Takes me back 40 yrs. ago, when I was young & happy.
Listening to a version of Bewitched, reminds me a great deal of Anita O'Day. Definitely worth listening to more!
she`s SUPER-----Ca p t CUB
elmason0
1956 Korea - I was the only GI in the barracks with LP J.C. records - after a year there were 30 more June Christy fans. Ed
June - The very best! Saw (mostly heard) her and Stan Kenton at Crystal Beach, Ontario, Canada in the 50's. Beautiful voice, face, soul.
I WAS LUCKY ENOUGH TO SEE AND HEAR HER IN PERSON WITH THE KENTON ORCHESTRA... W O W ! ! ! ! ! !
zeeman155
Zeeman 15
Something Cool something great!
She was just great.. Never disappointed and I had most of her LP's. Just loved her voice and her singing style.
Had the opportunity to meet June and Stan Kenton at Indiana University when the orchestra appeared there in 1950 (I think). Fell in love with her then and still love her music. She was the perennial runner-up to Ella in the Playboy Jazz Series.
bowiebill3
Fan since the 50's. Have two copies of the CD Something Cool. One for home the other for my car. My favorite CD.
Like the Paul Desmond reference, couldn't agree more!
pahuntz
the midnight sun has stayed in my mind since i first heard it 55yrs ago
davidthedriv e r 9
Met her in 1954..really something cool. So often she made my day...still does.
dagalag2
Got me through many tough times growing up.
sanelinger
SHE DID MORE FOR MY EARLY LOVE LIFE THAN ANY OTHER SINGLE THING ,BACK IN THE DAY BUT WHAT A DAY IT WAS!
School Boy Crush material, at least in my case.
Try to find Felicia Saunders if you like this
wjmtv
Truly the cat's meow.
scaup1
just wonderful !
murielmoore_ 7 1
Question...D i d she do an album of autumn songs? As I remember it included
Sept. Song. The Autumn Leaves etc.
tnmone
More than the most !
ekyugelman
I've been a fan for many years and she never misses the mark for me.
mgavin69
There's something in her voice, a little catch that really pleases my
ears. Never overdone, the economy of her phrasing is terrific. She's tops!
A truly distinct singer. She ends each bar so crisp and clear. She is unique, one of kind.
rraaee
If I could pick my voice it would be hers.
grswirs41
Great phrasing.Had a Paul Desmond like quality to her voice.
ralfleming
Although many criticize her for a mannered delivery, no one could do it better, and there are many who treasure her as I do. She was a disciple of Anita O'Day, but Chris Connor never came close.
greatest jazz singer ever

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