Thursday, October 29, 2009

Witchcraft 2009: Chris Connor

video
From a great singer who just passed away this past August. part of her bio
Chris Connor (November 8, 1927 – August 29, 2009 [1]) was an American jazz singer.
She was born as Mary Loutsenhizer in Kansas City, Missouri to Clyde and Mabel Loutsenhizer. She studied and became proficient on the clarinet, having studied for 8 years throughout junior high and high school. Mabel Loutsenhizer died in 1940 and young Mary moved in with her older sister, who took over the responsibility of raising her. She first sang publicly in 1945, at the Jefferson City Junior College's graduation.
She moved between local bands from 1946-1947 and in 1948, she moved to New York City with the intention of having a glamorous career. Unable to find a singing job, she became an office stenographer. She spent the next seven weeks trying to secure any kind singing job. She met a man acquainted with orchestra leader Claude Thornhill's road manager, Joe Green. Thornhill was seeking a new singer to round out his vocal group, the Snowflakes. She successfully auditioned and joined Thornhill's group, touring around the United States and recording harmonies in the studio. Of her time spent with the Snowflakes, there is only evidence of her vocal contribution on two recorded songs: "There's a Small Hotel" and "I Don't Know Why", both performed in 1949. She continued to tour with the Thornhill band sporadically until March 1952, when she joined Jerry Wald's big band and recorded five songs: "You're the Cream in My Coffee", "Cherokee", "Pennies from Heaven", "Raisins and Almonds", and "Terremoto". She also reunited with Claude Thornhill in October 1952 for a radio broadcast from the Statler Hotel in New York City. She sang four songs: "Wish You Were Here", Come Rain or Come Shine", "Sorta Kinda", and "Who Are We to Say".
When Connor was singing live on a radio broadcast from the Roosevelt Hotel in February 1953, June Christy (then vocalist for Stan Kenton's band), was listening and heard her sing. By 1952, Kenton had rotated several female singers as replacements. In late 1952, Christy returned to the Kenton band for some sporadic engagements. When she informed Kenton again of her impending departure to pursue a solo career, she remembered Chris Connor and recommended her to Kenton. Connor auditioned and began touring and recording for the Stan Kenton band in February 1953. On February 11, 1953, Connor recorded her first sides with the Stan Kenton band. Her first song, "And The Bull Walked Around, Ole", peaked at #30 on the Billboard music charts. Other songs recorded with the band were "Baia", "Jeepers Creepers", "If I Should Lose You", "I Get A Kick Out Of You", "Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen" and the song that would forever be associated with the vocalist, "All About Ronnie". Additional songs Connor sang on the road (but never recorded with the band in studio) were "Taking A Chance On Love", "Don't Worry About Me", "I'll Remember April" and "There Will Never Be Another You".
By June 1953, Connor was finding the constant traveling and vocal demands of nightly performances with a big band exhausting. She abruptly left the Kenton band and by fall of 1953, she had relocated back to New York. Soon after, she hired Monte Kay to manage her impending solo career. He found work for her at Birdland. One night after a show, the owner of Bethlehem Records, Gus Wildi, offered her a recording contract on the spot. She signed with the label in 1953, and in 1954 released dual long play LPs, Chris Connor Sings Lullabys Of Birdland and Chris Connor Sings Lullabys For Lovers. She became a best-selling solo artist for Bethlehem Records aged 26 and the label rushed her into the studios to record additional songs. Bethlehem Records released the successful follow-up albums Chris and This Is Chris in 1955. When time came for Connor's contract to expire, she signed for an album deal with Atlantic Records (she recorded for Atlantic from 1956-1963). Connor was the first white female jazz singer to be signed by the label. Ahmet Ertegun and his brother Nesuhi Ertegun's Atlantic label was, at the time, primarily a rhythm and blues label, with artists such as Ruth Brown and Ray Charles.
Chris Connor died on August 29, 2009 from cancer, aged 81. She is survived by a nephew and her longtime partner and manager Lori Muscarelle.

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