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But Beautiful

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Album Review

As the voice of Chiquita Banana for more than 14 years, a guest on Ed Sullivan's first TV variety show, appearances in more than ten motion pictures, active in entertaining troops during the Korean War, Monica Lewis attained a degree of popularity in the late 40s and early 50s. Beginning her career as a vocalist and co-host on such shows as The Chesterfield Hour and Beat the Band she had an active career until her marriage in 1956. Her comeback in 1987 resulted in renewed interest in her earlier recordings and several of them have been reissued. On this Fresh Sound reissue of the Jubilee label's But Beautiful Lewis is backed by Jack Kelly's guitar and ensemble, the members of which remain a mystery. They do an admirable job in setting an attractive musical framework for Lewis' voice. Most of the tunes are romantic ballads with a mid-tempo piece now and then, like "Isn't This a Lovely Day." Sounding a lot like Dinah Shore with a dash of Julie London, Lewis shows a nice clear contralto with excellent diction and good phrasing. She can also be "girl next door" cute as on "Do It Again."

While she was no threat to supplant other top jazz/pop singers of the day, she was pleasant to listen to. The one downside to the release is that there's only 33 minutes of music, a parsimonious allotment for a CD.


Born: 1922 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s

b. 5 May 1922, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Lewis was born into a musical family, a career in showbusiness was virtually inevitable. Her father, Leon Lewis, was a symphonic composer and pianist, her mother, Jessica, sang with the Chicago Opera Company and became one of the country’s leading vocal coaches. Her sister, Barbara Lewis Golub, became an accomplished concert pianist; while her brother, Marlo Lewis, was the producer of the original Ed Sullivan television show, The Toast Of The Town. Lewis first...
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But Beautiful, Monica Lewis
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