Anita Kerr

We Dig Mancini!

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We Dig Mancini! has a measure of notoriety unrelated to its musical merits because it won the Grammy for Best Performance by a Vocal Group over the Beatles' Help! in 1965, making it a target of derision for those who see it as a symbol of the industry's eagerness to embrace a square vocal group over an adventurous rock & roll act. The Anita Kerr Singers were not very square, though -- they were ubiquitous session singers on countless hit records, and We Dig Mancini! was an adventurous effort to adapt some of Henry Mancini's instrumental music to a vocal group format. The group includes several of Mancini's compositions, such as "The Sweetheart Tree" and "Dear Heart," that are straightforward songs performed in a conventional pop vocal quartet style with jazz shadings, similar to the Four Freshmen but sweeter. The group's renditions of Mancini's instrumental hits, such as "The Pink Panther Theme" and "Baby Elephant Walk," are more unusual and carry the melodies with wordless vocals similar to the Swingle Singers or Ray Conniff. Kerr is one of the most important female artists of her era, and the vocal arrangements on We Dig Mancini! are performed with such precision that it only underscores her skill and professionalism.

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