b. Barbara Norris, 26 June 1939, San Francisco, California, USA. Raised in Marin County in a musical Croatian family, Norris attended Drake High School, singing all through high school in school functions. From the age of 12, she sang at shopping centre openings around the San Francisco Bay Area with dixieland bands, including those led by Lee Crosby and Dick Stewart. She often sat in at Bop City, one of San Francisco’s leading jazz clubs. She began her professional career singing in restaurants and clubs in Sausalito, California, and worked in San Francisco in the late 50s and early 60s. During this period, she was also secretary to the Kingston Trio. In the mid-60s, Norris moved to New York where she was signed to Columbia Records by John Hammond Jnr. , subsequently performing at the Persian Room of New York’s Plaza Hotel and in Las Vegas at The Sands Hotel with the Buddy Rich band. She also appeared on television prestigious shows including those hosted by Ed Sullivan, Johnny Carson and Mike Douglas, as well as on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. Norris became increasingly dissatisfied at the manner in which her career was being directed, but a meeting with pianist Larry Dunlap led to a renewal of her enthusiasm. She has since appeared extensively in the San Francisco area, where she is based, and has appeared with Dunlap, to whom she is married, at numerous venues including the city’s jazz festivals and also at the Monterey Jazz Festival. Farther afield, she has had successful engagements in Japan. Among other musicians with whom Norris has worked are Harry Allen, Kenny Barron, Rufus Reid, and Ben Riley. Her rich, appealing voice lends itself particularly well to ballads and she uses it also to add texture to the Latin-tinged music in which she and Dunlap specialize.
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