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Jazz April Birthday: Carmen McRae

Ron Hudson

Singer, composer, pianist, and actress Carmen McRae was considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century. 

Her distinctive phrasing and her interpretations of song lyrics set her apart from her more popular contemporaries, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald.

Known as the "singer's singer," her warm voice had a slight edge that could convey irony or heartbreak.   Carmen would get deep inside the lyric of a song and make you feel the last tiny drop of emotion in the story.

"Blues is to jazz what yeast is to bread-without it, it's flat." - Carmen McRae

Originally from Detroit, Robin Lloyd has been presenting jazz, blues and Latin jazz on public radio for nearly 40 years. She's a member of the Jazz Education Network and the Jazz Journalists Association.
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