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Kay Starr: 16 Golden Greats

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Album Review

For this 1960 session, Kay Starr joined the Van Alexander & His Orchestra — with whom she had worked on earlier recordings — to produce an album of so-called "jazz singer songs." With her deep, husky saloon singer-type voice, Starr swings a set of 12 songs all arranged by Alexander in a variety of tempos. Helped along on such tracks as "I Never Knew" by a wailing, soulful electric organ and a singing ensemble, Starr applies her one-of-a-kind technique to these hardy standards. She brings to most of the tunes that "hillbilly"/blues inflection she developed very early in her career when she was singing on radio stations first in Dallas and then in Memphis. Her blues biases are prominent on such cuts as "My Man" and "All by Myself." Starr reminds the listener that she could swing with the best of them with up-beat romps of "Breezin' Along With the Breeze" and "Happy Days and Lonely Nights." Because of her pop hits, Starr has been underrated as a jazz singer. But with an album such as this, that underestimation is clearly undeserved and wrong, and this album helps document her place as a top-flight jazz vocalist.


Born: July 21, 1922 in Dougherty, OK

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

A solid jazz singer whose early recordings tended to be forgotten after her ascendancy into the commercial sphere during the mid-'50s, Kay Starr was among the first pop singer to capitalize on the "rock fad" with her 1955 novelty "Rock and Roll Waltz." Her biggest hit came with the era-defining "Wheel of Fortune," a prime slice of '50s adult pop with a suitably brassy reading. Born in Oklahoma, she moved to Dallas at a young age and made her debut on radio while still in school. A brief stay with...
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Kay Starr: 16 Golden Greats, Kay Starr
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