blog image 1Everything about Blossom Dearie, from her name to her voice to her cool schoolteacher looks, was cute as pie. Mostly the voice. Light, warm and breezy with plenty of tenderness and fragile soul, she didn't sound like anyone else on earth. Her tone wasn't brassy or showy, and she barely had enough lung power to blow up a balloon, but she could break your heart with her interpretations of ballads like "Surrey With the Fringe on Top" or "Someone to Watch Over Me." Anyone who grew up in the 70's knows how haunting her vocals on Schoolhouse Rock's "Figure 8" were; just hearing it now makes me want to weep. She wasn't just a ballad singer, though; she was also a swinger and a fine piano player. From the mid-50's right up until a couple years ago, Dearie was out there performing and spreading her warm and intelligent sound to anyone hip enough to be hep. Although she doesn't get the same respect as singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan or Anita O'Day, Blossom Dearie was a vocal jazz giant and she deserves a place right up there with the best. Listen to any of her 50's recordings for Verve and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. Until then, check out some samples of Dearie at her best:

"I Won't Dance" (from Blossom Dearie)
"Lover Man" (from Blossom Dearie)
"Give Him the Ooh-La-La" (from Give Him the Ooh-La-La)
"Down With Love" (from Once Upon a Summertime)
"Someone to Watch Over Me" (from My Gentleman Friend)
"I'm Hip" (from I'm Hip)
"Figure 8" (from Schoolhouse Rock!)

Also watch a rare and wonderful video of a performance of "Surrey With the Fringe on Top" for Jack Paar's Tonight Show: