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Mabel Mercer

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Respected and honored by her peers, cabaret singer Mabel Mercer was one of the strongest song interpreters in traditional pop, a large influence on singers including Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole, as well as a ready rediscoverer of once-forgotten nuggets like "Fly Me to the Moon." Born in Staffordshire, England, Mercer was the child of American jazz singer Warren Mercer, Sr. (who died before Mabel's birth), and British music hall actress Gertrude Doak. Though she was classically trained in voice, her professional debut came as a dancer, while she was still in her teens. Mercer was back to vocals by the '20s, and during the decade she appeared in clubs throughout Europe as well as the Middle East. By the end of the Roaring '20s, she had settled in Paris and gained fame on the city's cabaret scene, populated and made famous by American expatriates, from Cole Porter to Ernest Hemingway. Mercer made her New York debut in 1938 and soon began a club residency that eventually lasted 20 years. Her notable influence on Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, and Nat King Cole gained her additional fans; after signing to Atlantic in the early '50s, Mercer recorded several LPs during the decade. During the '60s, she recorded two live LPs with Bobby Short. The following decade saw her appearing at Carnegie Hall and on her own British television special. Despite a brief retirement, she returned in the early '80s and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. ~ John Bush

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03 February 1900 in Staffordshire, England

Years Active:

'20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s