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Carmen McRae

Carmen McRae always had a nice voice (if not on the impossible level of an Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan) but it was her behind-the-beat phrasing and ironic interpretations of lyrics that made her most memorable. She studied piano early on and had her first important job singing with Benny Carter's big band (1944), but it would be another decade before her career had really gained much momentum. McRae married and divorced Kenny Clarke in the '40s, worked with Count Basie (briefly) and Mercer Ellington (1946-1947), and became the intermission singer and pianist at several New York clubs. In 1954 she began to record as a leader' and by then she had absorbed the influences of Billie Holiday and bebop into her own style. McRae would record pretty steadily up to 1989 and, although her voice was higher in the '50s and her phrasing would be even more laid-back in later years, her general style and approach did not change much through the decades. Championed in the '50s by Ralph Gleason, McRae was fairly popular throughout her career. Among her most interesting recording projects were participating in Dave Brubeck's the Real Ambassadors with Louis Armstrong, cutting an album of live duets with Betty Carter, being accompanied by Dave Brubeck and George Shearing, and closing her career with brilliant tributes to Thelonious Monk and Sarah Vaughan. Carmen McRae, who refused to quit smoking, was forced to retire in 1991 due to emphysema. She recorded for many labels including Bethlehem, Decca (1954-1958), Kapp, Columbia, Mainstream, Focus, Atlantic (1967-1970), Black Lion, Groove Merchant, Catalyst, Blue Note, Buddah, Concord, and Novus. ~ Scott Yanow
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Carmen McRae For Lovers

1. When I Fall In Love

2. My One And Only Love

3. Isn't It Romantic?

4. The More I See You

5. All My Life

6. A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square

7. If Love Is Good To Me

8. I'm Glad There Is You

9. My Funny Valentine

10. I''ll Be Seeing You

11. Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye

x

Track List: The Diva Series

1. Fallling In Love With You

2. I Only Have Eyes For You

3. Speak Low

4. Midnight Sun (live)

5. I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket

6. How Little We Know

7. Skylark

8. My Man's Gone Now

9. Comes Love

10. All Thethings You Are

11. Ain't Misbehavin'

12. Do You Know Why?

13. Bye-Bye Blackbird

14. Any Old Time

15. That Old Devil Moon

16. I'm Glad There Is You

x

Track List: Ballad Essentials

1. I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You

2. These Foolish Things Remind Me Of You (live)

3. Come In Out Of The Rain

6. It Will Have To Do (Until The Real Thing Comes Along)

10. Besame Mucho

12. Fine And Mellow

x

Track List: I'll Be Seeing You: A Tribute To Carmen McRae

Disc 1

1. Something To Live For

2. Speak Low

3. But Beautiful

4. Midnight Sun

5. Good Morning Heartache

6. I Don't Stand A Ghost Of A Chance With You

7. We'll Be Together Again

8. Star Eyes

9. Whatever Lola Wants (Lola Gets)

10. Lush Life

11. Until The Real Thing Comes Along

12. You Don't Know Me

13. Skyliner

14. The Party's Over

15. East Of The Sun (West Of The Moon)

16. Dream Of Life

17. Perdido

18. Exactly Like You

19. I'm Thru With Love

20. I'll See You Again

Disc 2

1. Invitation

2. Bye Bye Blackbird

3. Flamingo

4. Oh Yes, I Remember Clifford

5. If I Were A Bell

6. Any Old Time

7. What's New

8. The Night We Called It A Day

9. Please Be Kind

10. The Thrill Is Gone

11. By Myself

12. Do You Know Why

13. The More I See You

14. When Your Lover Has Gone

15. If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight

16. I Only Have Eyes For You

17. I'm Glad There Is You

18. Ain't Misbehavin' (I'm Savin' My Love For You)

19. I'll Be Seeing You

x

Track List: Carmen McRae Sings Great American Songwriters

1. You Took Advantage Of Me

2. Yesterdays

3. Last Night When We Were Young

4. I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket

5. Blue Moon

6. I Was Doing All Right

7. My Foolish Heart

8. My Funny Valentine

9. Nice Work If You Can Get It

10. Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea

11. All The Things You Are

12. I Get A Kick Out Of You

13. My Man's Gone Now

14. Summertime

15. He Was Too Good To Me

16. How Long Has This Been Going On?

17. When I Fall In Love

18. My Romance

19. I Concentrate On You

20. Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye

x

Track List: Here To Stay

1. Just One Of Those Things

2. Something To Live For

3. Sometimes I'm Happy

4. This Will Make You Laugh

5. Love Is Here To Stay

6. I Can't Get Started With You

7. Supper Time

8. My One And Only Love

9. I'll Remember April

10. Yardbird Suite

11. A Sleepin' Bee

12. Three Little Words

13. Comes Love

14. I See Your Face Before Me

15. It's Love

16. How Little We Know

17. You Leave Me Breathless

18. That's For Me

19. Falling In Love With Love

20. Love Is A Simple Thing

x

Track List: Carmen Sings Monk

1. Get It Straight

2. Dear Ruby

3. It's Over Now

4. Monkery's The Blues

5. You Know Who

6. Little Butterfly

7. Listen To Monk

8. How I Wish...

9. Man, That Was A Dream

10. 'Round Midnight

11. Still We Dream

12. Suddenly

13. Looking Back

14. Suddenly

15. Get It Straight

x

Track List: Just A Little Lovin'

1. Just A Little Lovin'

2. Something

3. I Thought I Knew You Well

4. I Want You

5. More Today Than Yesterday

6. Here There And Everywhere

7. Carry That Weight

8. Breakfast In Bed

9. I Love The Life I Live

10. What'cha Gonna Do

11. Didn't We

12. Goodbye Joe

x

Track List: Lover Man

1. Them There Eyes

2. Yesterdays

3. I'm Gonna Lock My Heart

4. Strange Fruit

5. Miss Brown To You

6. My Man

7. I Cried For You

8. Lover Man

9. Trav'lin' Light

10. Some Other Spring

11. What A Little Moonlight Can Do

12. God Bless The Child

13. If The Moon Turns Green

14. The Christmas Song

x

Track List: Carmen McRae

1. You'd Be So Easy To Love

2. If I'm Lucky

3. Old Devil Moon

4. Tip Toe Gently

5. You Made Me Care

6. Last Time For Love

7. Misery

8. Too Much In Love To Care

9. Too Much In Love To Care (Alt. Take)

x

Track List: Priceless Jazz Collection: Voices Of The Century (Box Set)

3. Flamingo

6. Love Is A Simple Thing

13. East Of The Sun (West Of The Moon)

x

Track List: The Best Of Carmen McRae 20th Century Masters The Millennium Collection

1. Something To Live For

2. Good Morning Heartache

3. My Foolish Heart

4. Happy To Make Your Acquaintance (feat. Sammy Davis, Jr.)

5. My Funny Valentine

6. Exactly Like You

7. Oh Yes, I Remember Clifford

8. A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square

9. My Romance

10. When I Fall In Love

11. I Only Have Eyes For You

12. Ain't Misbehavin'

Comments

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one of the very best of the GREATS
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My absolute favorite.
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prsfmail-man
mebnic2: hang in there. You have wonderful memories of hearing and seeing Carmen live and can attest to her great interpretive talents not to mention her fun side and her moody sides... we are very fortunate to have spent many evenings in the presence of the great Carmen McRae
Report as inappropriate
My husband then loved her. However I grew to love her style & grace. She is alright with me. The song Mrs Otis Regrets. Style & " Miss Carmen "
Report as inappropriate
mebnic2
Ahh my memories of going the Parisian Room on La Brea in Los Angeles to hear and see Carmen McRae was so exciting. Sassy, sexy and full of musical style. She took me with her on her mood swings. Dianna Krall just keep trying...... . y o u ' l l never reach her styling and voice and jazz implications . A great not too often spoken of now is sad for me.
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When life is getting me down, I comfort myself with the thought that I got to live on the same planet as Carmen McRae and Maxine Sullivan.
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richeshilian
maybe my 2nd favorite. If you could find her rendition of sweet georgia brown, we would be in for a real treat.
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A nice voice ?!! Scott Yanow - You're an idiot! Ella has a very pure voice - Carmen sings from her gut and is always emotionally involved.
Report as inappropriate
I think Carmen McRae's voice only got better as she aged.
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Ain't misbehavin' - Carmen McRae off The Diva Series: been a few years since I had the pleasure of this lady's music - the song might be well known but her approach is quite different.
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so smooth
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maggiekksb
If I could Be With you for just an hour...Carme n McCrae
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Just s beautiful songstress ! Her voice is captivating !
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LIKE !!!!!!!!!!!! ! !
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rjferrari
Carmen and Peggy Lee were the two greatest female jazz singers.
Report as inappropriate
Carmen sings from the heart,she makes every meaningful. I love this womam
Report as inappropriate
i do not think ella had a better voice than carmen.
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Treasure!
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spongebob364 1
Such a beautiful sultry voice.
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joseph65315
love to listen to Carmen especially when accompanied by cousin Joe
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cobban.barne t t
One ... of ... a ... kind ... period ....
Report as inappropriate
Her voice is beautiful
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serf911
Saying that Carmen McRae had a nice voice is a criminal act!
Report as inappropriate
Oh how we miss the good old days when people could get into your soul.
Report as inappropriate
camm171
Her rendition of Body and Soul.. simply delicious!
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The signature that Carmen put on a song, made her one the best singers of her era. I saw her once years ago on a lovely summer evening at an outdoor venue, just pure magic.
Report as inappropriate
know41self4
Carmen was at her best when performing live...I also remember a tribute to her by Dianne Reeves...sim p l y sectacular.
Report as inappropriate
Nina meets Ella... Loving it!
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I could listen to her alllllll day!!!!!!
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capitalteas
I LOVE CARMEN !! she is one of my favorites
Report as inappropriate
Sarah's voice and style... what gifts she was blessed with. Sarah, herself and her wonderful songs ... what gifts to us for all time.

Sassy is hard to categorize. She shines over and above and through all the categories populated by female vocalists.. Impossible to duplicate.
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GOOD!
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Her cover of Whatever Lola Wants is superb.
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keedeeg
What a Lovely voice!!!
Report as inappropriate
A nice voice! That's what I call an understateme n t if I ever heard one.
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jonthomasbil y
Sweet...
Report as inappropriate
bigblue91
Nice!!
Report as inappropriate
She is a top performer! (All time)
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She is wonderful and has become one of my favorite singers
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Angel Like Voice!
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Oh my goodness!.Oh my Carmen! xxxxxxxClass personified.
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Beautiful
Report as inappropriate
pascaduto
She was the best and the young set today should fall in love dancing to her beautiful and moving voice. Thank you for your gift and sharing it with the world.
Report as inappropriate
astreataylor
I'm surprised the author didn't compare her to Nina Simone.
Report as inappropriate
To say Carmen McRae had a nice voice is an insult to one of the greatest jazz vocalists of all time. And to compare her to Ella, who was not a jazz singer is an injustice to them both. Shame on you, Scott Yanow.
Report as inappropriate
wonderful voice - and I love these stories y'all are posting
Report as inappropriate
It was my pleasure in 1971 to sit at a table next to the piano at Donte's in North Hollywood while Carmen sat and played and sang. Yes, her playing was superb also. At one point, she had to excuse herself while she fetched music from the pile at my feet. It has all been downhill for me since!!
Report as inappropriate
mooyoo.77
CARMEN, STAYED TRUE TO HER OWN VOICE.
Report as inappropriate
pgstamelman
Agree with Intersport: At the Great American Music Hall is Ms. McRae at her best. And dig Jimmy Rowles on The Ballad of Thelonious Monk.
Report as inappropriate
intersport7
by far carmen: the best torch singer of all time, and the best recording of her is from the 70's title is carmen at the great american music hall! needs to be added to pandora list.
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