Today being April 28, my wedding anniversary, I glanced at the Wikipedia almanac page to see what other momentous events occurred on this day. What caught my eye immediately is that this is Blossom Dearie's birthday. She was born April 28, 1924. And I defy anyone to think of Blossom Dearie without smiling.
For the uninitiated, Blossom Dearie was a wonderful bop-style jazz pianist (her first solo LP, “Blossom Dearie Plays 'April In Paris,'” was all instrumental), but she was most famous for her distinctive, little girl voice. Depending on the mood of the song, it could be playful, heartbreaking or hilarious. You could practically hear her famous platinum blondness in her helium-high vocals.
If you don't know her, I'm sad for you, but not surprised. She passed away two years ago in her Greenwich Village apartment, and despite making many highly-regarded recordings, Blossom remained the ultimate Manhattan cult act. She could never fill an arena in Sheboygan like Lady Gaga, but her acolytes were just as slavishly devoted as Gaga's little monsters are to her. Blossom may have played small cabarets and clubs, but only she had the juice to insist that her shows start at 5:30 pm so she could get home early, and her audiences would actually show up at 5:30! She was also reportedly the first act ever to insist that the audience not smoke when she was on stage. And because she was Blossom Dearie, they snuffed out their butts. If you came of age during the non-smoking era, you have no idea how revolutionary a change that was. Most nightclubs used to be smokey enough to cure hams in.
For you poor deprived souls who've never experienced Blossom, here is a link to her rendition of one of my favorite songs, Gershwin's “Little Jazz Bird.” I hope you enjoy it as much as my houseful of rescued parrots do, and that it encourages you to seek out more of her recordings and YouTube videos. And if you'd like to hear some funny personal stories about her that never could've made it into her obituaries, click here and here for a remembrance by my favorite contemporary singer, the dazzling Mary Cleere Haran. We also lost her very recently, but that's another tragic story that I don't want to think about when I'm celebrating my anniversary and Blossom Dearie's birthday.
How about you? Are you a Blossom fan, or have you become one after checking out some of these links?