A personal tribute – Goodbye, Jackie Trent

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When Colin Gregory emailed me yesterday, to tell me his wife of the last ten years – Jackie Trent (1940-2015) – had died on March 21st, I couldn’t really believe what I was reading…..

I had a kind of “special” relationship with Jackie, and we kept in touch by email (at infrequent intervals) during many years. So even though we have never met in person, getting an email from Jackie always felt like hearing from a dear old friend. Whether she did this with all of her fans or just me, I don’t know. But she was thrilled to bits the first time I wrote her, and she immediately proclaimed me to be her No 1 Fan in Norway!

 

Jackie used to sign all her mails to me with "Love from Jackie - Big voice, big hair"! This photo shows the latter...

Jackie used to sign all her mails to me with “Love from Jackie – Big voice, big hair”! This photo shows the latter…

 

I guess some of you now wonder – who IS Jackie Trent? Even if the name might not be familiar, her music no doubt will be. As a songwriter Jackie collaborated with her then-husband Tony Hatch, and together they wrote a long list of songs that are now classics. Petula Clark had several hits in the 1960s that were written by Jackie and Tony. There can’t be anyone alive on planet Earth who hasn’t heard songs like “Downtown”, “I Know A Place”, “I Couldn’t Live Without  Your Love”….. In addition, they also wrote the theme song to the Australian TV-series “Neighbours” and the British football team Stoke City got the song “We’ll Be With You” written especially for them – and 40 years on it is still the teams personal anthem, being sung at each and every game. Tony & Jackie wrote more than 400 songs together.

 

Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent - what a team!

Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent – what a team!

 

Jackie the singer is another chapter in the musical life and career of the great Miss Trent. Jackie might joke about her “big voice, big hair” and while the hairdos changed through the years, the voice never did. Jackie was a tremendously gifted singer as well. The girl born as Yvonne Burgess in 1940, made her first record in 1962 – a single called “Pick Up The Pieces”. Renamed Jackie Trent, she was another one of the British big-voiced girls. I don’t know why, but a whole lot of the great caucasian and really soulful girl singers come from Great Britain: Dusty Springfield, Lulu, Cilla Black, Kiki Dee, Sheena Easton, Amy Winehouse, Adele etc., etc. And Jackie is right up there with the rest of them….

By 1963, Jackie was signed to the PYE label, and stayed with them for the next 11 years. And during this era, she made the bulk of her recorded legacy. While she (of course!) recorded her own songs, she also had a great eye for picking winners from other sources and her years on PYE is chock-full of vocal delights.

 

This is the one to get! 50 great recording by Jackie 1963-75

This is the one to get! 50 great recording by Jackie 1963-75

 

The PYE years provided Jackie with many musical highlights, and the collection pictured above is really the one to get. It proves once and for all that as a singer Jackie is just marvelous, and each of the 50 tracks proves it! Whether doing soft ballads or something powerful and up-tempo, Jackie is right on target. Her spectoresque treatment of Edith Piafs classic “If You Love Me, Really Love Me” sounds like it’s produced by the man himself. And while the music also here is indeed a wall of sound, Jackie cuts right through and delivers a truly powerful vocal. “Time After Time” is an old evergreen that has been done by hundreds of singers through the years. Jackies version is an updated one, making it sound like a completely new song, and another stunning vocal performance.

Phil Spector did produce the Ronettes version of “You, Baby” – but he and Ronnie Spector must have been tearing their (big) hair out when they heard what Jackie did with it. Her take on that song is true perfection! The title track was Jackies only charttopper, and it is still a classic 60s power ballad that has stood the test of time very well. Other highlights are “Love Is Me, Love Is You” (also recorded by Connie Francis in both English and German to great effect), “Goin’ Back” (Jackies version is in the same league as those recorded by Dusty Springfield, Eydie Gorme and Elkie Brooks – all of which are awesome!), “If You Go Away”, “Send In The Clowns”, “Corner Of The Sky” (from “Pippin”) and “Everybody Rejoice” (from “The Wiz”). If just one track has to be specially highlighted, it has to be the fabulous interpretation of Scott Walkers “Such A Small Love”. It is a perfect example on how lyrics, voice and music can perfectly melt together and create true magic. If this doesn’t give you goosepimples all over – nothing ever will!

 

Jackie on stage in 1971, no doubt flooding the audience with great singing

Jackie on stage in 1971, no doubt flooding the audience with great singing

 

After the mid-70’s, Jackie took a rather long break from recording – but she was still performing around the globe, both in concerts and in musicals. Examples of the latter being “Nell” (1969), “The Card” (1973), “Rock Nativity” (1976) and “High Society” (2004).

Jackie personally wrote me in late 2008 to tell me she was planning a new album, the first in more than 30 years. The plans came through all right, and “Trentquility” was released in 2009. It proves that Jackie had lost none of her talent, and her voice and interpretive skills are completely intact. The whole album is great, but the song that stands out is “Handbags And Gladrags”. Compare it with the more famous recordings by Chris Farlow and Rod Stewart, and you will see what dimensions Jackie brings to the intricate melody and cryptic lyrics. Another masterpiece!

 

Her 2009 album "Trentquility" turned out to be last collection of new recordings made by Jackie....

Her 2009 album “Trentquility” turned out to be last collection of new recordings made by Jackie….

 

Her legacy as a singer and composer is stunning, and new versions of Jackies songs are being made every year. She will be remembered as one of the truly great songwriters of the 21st Century, and rightfully so. She should also be remembered as the powerful but emotional singer that she was – a singing actress indeed. Jackie could go from a soft whispering to a big belting sound in a matter of just a few notes, and the kind of singer that she was is the kind you very rarely hear these days.

 

Jackie Trent - forever remembered with much love and admiration

Jackie Trent – forever remembered with much love and admiration

 

My very best to Jackies ex-husband and co-writer Tony Hatch – thanks for creating all that great music! My heart goes out to Jackies children Darren and Michelle, and her husband Colin. To you she was wife and mum, to me she was someone I admired tremendously, and it was always a thrill to get an email from Jackie. I will miss her Christmas greetings this year…..

 

 

 

 

At the end of 2014

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Here we are, the very last day of 2014.

I hope your 2014 was a good one, and that 2015 will be even better! There are 365 days to fill with music ahead of us, and as I have done for the past three years, in 2015 I will continue to bring you new musical musings and artist biographies.

Wishing you all a very, merry 2015!

Wishing you all a very, merry 2015!

 

As a last bit of “show biz update” – I will leave a small dedication:

Though she never sang much, actress Luise Rainer got her first Academy Award for a musical biography, “The Great Ziegfeld” in 1936. She was then the youngest actress to receive the Oscar, and also the first German actress to win it. When she got another Academy Award in 1937 (for “The Good Earth”), she became to first actress to win it twice. Miss Rainer made 12 movies between 1932 and 1943. After 54 years, she finally made her last movie, “The Gambler” in 1997.

Luise Rainer on her 100th birthday, pictured in her home in London with her 1936 & 1937 Oscars

Luise Rainer on her 100th birthday, pictured in her home in London with her 1936 & 1937 Oscars

 

Born on January 12, 1910 – Luise Rainer died yesterday (December 30 2014), two weeks short of her 105th birthday. She was the most senior member of the Academy, and although she may not be a  familliar name today, she certainly belongs to the true royalty of film!

Her passing now makes Olivia De Havilland (born July 1 1916) the most senior Oscar winner still alive.

Wishing all my readers a happy new year – see you around in 2015!

 

Diana Dors – Still in my heart after 30 years

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The eternal image of how Diana Dors is remembered....

The eternal image of how Diana Dors is remembered….

 

On May 4 1984, the first homegrown, British sex symbol – Diana Dors – died. She was just 52, and the cause of death was ovarian cancer. As Dors also was quite well-known in Norway, the news of her passing reached us pretty fast, and a lot of Norwegian fans were shocked to hear she was gone at such a young age. Today, exactly 30 years to the day of her death, I will post this small tribute to this legendary British actress and sometime singer…..

A young Diana in 1952

A young Diana in 1952

 

Personally, I was too young to have seen Dors at her sex symbol height, but to me she was a very likable actress who showed up in a lot of movies during the 1970s, usually in meaty supporting parts in the endless line of British horror flicks and risqué comedies produced there during that decade.

Later on (when we got a video player in our house!) I saw a lot of her movies from the 40s, 50s and 60s as well, made back when her roles were bigger, and she was always a treat to see. Being the UK’s answer to all the busty, American blondes, Dors was of course regarded in the same light as Marilyn Monroe, Mamie Van Doren, Cleo Moore, Joi Lansing and all the other blonde bombshells. However, Diana Dors always seemed to be much more down to earth, and with a sense of humour about her own sex godess image, sure she was sexy, but always with tounge-in-cheek! And to top it off; when she got good material, she was one hell of an actress too. Her 1957 Movie “Yield To The Night” is often cited as her best work, and if you’ve never seen Diana Dors on film – treat yourself to this one! Great movie, great acting.

Perhaps her finest film, this 1957 production shows just how good she could be!

Perhaps her finest film, this 1957 production shows just how good she could be!

 

Dors was a celebrity of the highest rank in the UK, and in addition to all her films (ca. 80, made between 1947 and 1984), she was also doing cabarets, dinner Club work, TV series, and she was an ever popular chat show guest due to her natural charm and quick remarks.

Diana - the singer! Her album "Swingin' Dors" (1960) is a great collection of classic pop songs

Diana – the singer! Her album “Swingin’ Dors” (1960) is a great collection of classic pop songs

 

As with all celebrities, Diana Dors also was subject to a lot of rumours and gossip about her private life, her husbands, her private adult parties and her sex life. All of this caused such a stir, that it is sometimes hard to see that Dors made a great contribution to the world of film, and that she deserves to be remembered for her film work instead of her private life.

The British Bombshell meets an American one; Diana and Jayne Mansfield in 1967

The British Bombshell meets an American one; Diana and Jayne Mansfield in 1967

 

Even today, Dors is fondly remembered by a lot of movie goers around the world. Some might think of her as of one the blonde sex symbols of the 1950s, some might think of her as the fine actress that she was.

There is a great website about Diana, where you can see a lot of photos, a complete list of her films and TV work and much more. Check it out:

http://www.dianadors.co.uk/

"Here's looking at you..." A beautiful photo of Dors from ca. 1970

“Here’s looking at you…” A beautiful photo of Dors from ca. 1970

 

Today, the day of the 30th anniversary of her passing, I am sure a lot of Diana’s fans around the globe will think of her, and maybe watch a movie or two in honor of her memory. She did dramas, comedies, thrillers, horror movies and even a western (“Hannie Caulder“, 1970), so there is a lot to choose from. No matter what kind of film you end up with, Dors is always a treat to watch, and she has the kind of magnetic personality that makes it impossible not to notice her when she’s on-screen…. And that’s why we are still watching!

A photo from the early 1980's. Diana still looked great, even shortly before here untimely death

A photo from the early 1980’s. Diana still looked great, even shortly before here untimely death

 

 

 

Else Skagen – Minneord

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Hun var en av de  norske artistene på 60-tallet som ga seg altfor tidlig…. Noen husker henne med glede, andre vet ikke hvem hun var. Else vokste opp i Bodø, men bodde i Oslo i mange år fra slutten av 1970-tallet…

En av Else's singler; denne er fra 1968 og sørget for at hun også opptrådte i "Popkorn" på norsk TV

En av Else’s singler; denne er fra 1968 og sørget for at hun også opptrådte i “Popkorn” på norsk TV

 

Magasinet Bodø NU ba meg om å skrive en minneartikkel om Else – noe jeg med største glede gjorde! I dag har magasinet publisert den, du kan lese oppslaget i sin helhet ved å klikke på lenken under:

http://bodonu.no/ett-av-60-tallets-stjerneskudd-har-sluknet-for-godt/

Som det fremgår av artikkelen, så tilhører Else Skagen de som hadde mer enn nok talent til å kunne ha blitt en av de store, men hun valgte å gjøre andre ting i livet.

 

Oppdatering, april 2014:

50 år etter at den be spilt inn, gikk et eksemplar av Else Skagens debut-singel ut med utropspris på 175,- på en nettauksjon. Resultatet ble at den ble solgt for kr. 1700,-!! Else hadde garantert sagt noe a la “Æ flire mæ i hjæl” dersom hun hadde levd og fått med seg dette salget!

Bildet av 1964-singelen “Hvite Perler”/”Du Skulle Skamme Deg” ser du under her….

Den 15-årige talentkonkurranse-vinneren fikk så klart spille inn plate!

Den 15-årige talentkonkurranse-vinneren fikk så klart spille inn plate!

 

En lenke som omhandler auksjonssalget, kan du lese her: http://tidogrom.blogspot.no/2014/02/bod-pop-fra-1964-else-skagen.html

 

Else Skagen, fotografert i sitt hjem i Josefinesgt. i Oslo, 1993

Else Skagen, fotografert i sitt hjem i Josefinesgt. i Oslo, 1993

For meg var hun først og fremst en av mine beste venner – og det er derfor hyggelig å kunne bidra til å hedre hennes ettermæle på denne måten.

 

“Hvil i fred, Alex” – minner om Alexandra Naumik Sandøy

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Enten begynner jeg å bli for gammel, eller så dør ungdomsidolene mine altfor unge…. Kanskje begge deler er korrekt. Jeg var nær ved å falle ut av sofaen forrige lørdag, da jeg fikk høre at Alex var død. Musikken hennes har fulgt meg helt siden jeg var 10-11 år og en av de første platene jeg kjøpte for egne penger, var et av hennes album.

Alex, 1949 - 2013

Alex, 1949 – 2013

Denne uken sto dødsannonsen på trykk i Aftenposten – så er det altså sant, hun er borte fra denne verden og skal begraves fra en kirke i Oslo. Så der har vi beviset på at selv de mest spennende, eksotiske, særpregede og flotte kunstnerene også er vanlige dødelige mennesker. Det var en gang da jeg trodde at artister som Alex ikke døde på vanlig måte – de bare gikk over til en slags vakker og spesiell Nirvana, men den gang ei.

Annonsen som bekreftet at det virkelig var sant...

Annonsen som bekreftet at det virkelig var sant…

Flashback til 1978: Bydelen Haugerud på slutten av 1970-tallet var verken verre eller bedre enn alle andre drabantbyer på den tiden. Haugerud hadde sitt eget senter, med det oppfinnsomme navnet “Haugerud-senteret”. Matbutikken på senteret het “Bonus” og “Bonus” solgte LP-plater! Der inne sto jeg, med kr. 49,50 av ukepengene i lomma og en LP under armen. Etter å ha betalt, bar det rett hjem og etter å ha skrelt av meg yttertøyet ble LP’en lagt på stereoanlegget og ut strømmet lyden av noe helt nytt; en heftig, stakkato trommerytme tett fulgt av den feiteste bassen jeg til da hadde hørt, og på toppen av dette en stemme som var milevis over alle andre norske artister på den tida. Det var lyden av Alex som sang “Listen to the music”…. Jeg lyttet, jeg lyttet til hele LP’en, mange ganger om igjen og oppdaget stadig noe nytt. Alex sin musikk kom som det helt riktige alternativet, på det helt riktige tidspunktet. Hun ble en viktig del av lydsporet som tilhører min ungdomstid – og musikken hennes har beholdt sitt grep på meg i alle de 35 årene siden.

I dag er hun, i hvert fall for noen, et fjernt minne fra norsk rocks historie, andre husker henne med glede, mange lurer på “hvor ble hun av?”….  Sitt siste studioalbum, “Always” ga hun ut i 1983 – etter den tid har hun vært ute av rampelyset i Norge, og vi har ikke veldig mye kjennskap til hva hun har drevet med siden da, bortsett fra at hun har jobbet bl.a. i USA – og sporadisk utgitt noen singler…

"Always" var den 5. og siste i rekken av Alex' klassiske album fra 70/80-tallet

“Always” var den 5. og siste i rekken av Alex’ klassiske album fra 70/80-tallet

En kort oppsummering av Alex: Hun ga ut 5 flotte album mellom 1977 og 1983. Hun skapte mote med det som fremdeles i dag kalles “Alex-hår”. Hun vant Spellemannsprisen. Hun deltok i 4 norske Melodi Grand Prix finaler. Hun var født av polske foreldre i Litauen. Hun giftet seg med den norske filmregissøren Haakon Sandøy og flyttet til Norge i 1970, og fikk etter hvert datteren Naomi. Etter at hun ble skilt fra Sandøy hadde hun i mange år et forhold til musiker Atle Bakken.

Alex hadde en fantastisk stor og flexibel stemme, som strakk seg over fire oktaver – og hun var derfor i stand til å takle vokale utfordringer som lå langt over hva mange andre kunne klare. Fra den mest innsmigrende hvisking, via beinharde rockebrøl til høye, eteriske toner – Alex fikk alt sammen til å lyde like uanstrengt og like naturlig. To av de beste eksemplene på det siste finnes på “Daddy’s Child” fra 1980 – her gjør hun cover-versjoner av to artister som ikke mange tør å nærme seg vokalmessig; Minnie Riperton og Deniece Williams. Begge disse souldamene er kjent for å nå toner som anses som umulig for de fleste andre, men Alex klarte det med glans. Hun er fullt på høyde med originalene, Minnie’s “Inside my love” og Deniece’s “Touch me again” – bravo!

Alex fikk allerede fra starten etiketten “funkrockdronning” klistret på seg. I mine øyne er den delvis riktig; Alex var funky til tusen, og den eneste på 70/80-tallet som var musikalsk i nærheten av det Gudny Aspaas i Ruphus hadde gjort noen år tidligere. Men Alex var også en glimrende ballade-tolker, hun sang rock så det freste og hun kunne gi hvem som helst lyst til å innta dansegulvet med sine mest disco-pregede up-tempo låter (“I’m not alone“, “Let me be the beat” m.fl.). Alt i alt tilførte hun norsk musikkliv en skikkelig vitamininnsprøytning, på et tidspunkt da det var helt nødvendig. Alex hadde også en velutviklet evne til å leve seg inn i tekstene hun sang, og alt hun gjorde på plate og konserter fremsto dermed som ekte og levende.

"Alex" ble utgitt 1977. Håret hennes ble en egen mote-greie...

“Alex” ble utgitt 1977. Håret hennes ble en egen mote-greie…

Alex sine album: I kronologisk rekkefølge kom “Alex” (1977), “Handle With Care” (1978), “Hello, I Love You” (1979), “Daddy’s Child” (1980) og til slutt “Always” (1983). Samleplata “Alex’ Beste” kom i 1981, og inneholdt låter fra de første albumene pluss MGP-bidraget “Rock ‘n’ Roller”. I senere år har Alex sluppet noen singler med ujevne mellomrom, bl.a. “Home is where the hatred is“, “Almost” og “Living in color”.

Melodi Grand Prix: Fire ganger har hun deltatt i de norske Melodi Grand Prix-finalene, og alle gangene har hennes bidrag vært bedre enn det som vant. Hun sang “Univers” i 1980, “Rock ‘ n’ Roller” i 1981, “Perfekte Engel” i 1982 og “Fri” i 1986. Personlig tror jeg det hadde blitt flere poeng og mindre latterbrøl fra Europa dersom vi hadde sendt Alex til 1980-finalen fremfor “Samid Ædnan”. Finn Kalvik høstet “zero points” i 1981 – kan hende det ikke hadde skjedd dersom vår polsk/norske rock’n’roller hadde inntatt podiet isteden..?

Det er med glede jeg konstanterer at iTunes har samtlige av Alex’ originalutgivelser tilgjengelig – både fordi lyden er mye bedre enn mine gamle, slitte LP’er – og fordi hennes tidløse musikk dermed – endelig – er lett tilgjengelig for alle.

Alex er en viktig artist i norsk musikks historie, hun er en av de beste vokalistene vi har hatt – og hun ga ut noen fantastisk bra album. Jeg håper alle de som vokste opp med musikken hennes kan kjenne seg i gjen i noe av det jeg har skrevet her… Er du for ung til å ha opplevd henne mens hun var på høyden, sørg for å unne deg en “snik-lytt” snarest mulig!

Alex begraves i Oslo 7. oktober 2013. Hvil i fred. “perfekte engel” – jeg er takknemlig for at du satte farge på mitt musikalske univers!

Varme tanker og hilsener til Naomi & Colin, Alex’ søster Lilianna, Atle Bakken, Haakon Sandøy og alle venner og fans i inn- og utland

PATTI – a PAGE in everyone’s life

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2013 got off to a rather sad start, musically that is. On January 1st the golden voice of Patti Page was silenced forever, and one of the true American cultural icons left this world. She left behind an incredible amount of records – the sales of which have been certified at over 100 millions, her 1950 single “Tennessee Waltz” alone sold over 15 millions. Patti made her first record in 1947, and stayed actively in show business up to late 2012 – when she announced on her website that she was retiring due to health reasons. That concluded 65 years of singing, recording and performing – and a career which stands as unparalleled in musical history.

To sum up everything Patti has done is nearly impossible, and all aspects of her career and musical legacy have been discussed already. I will do the personal angle on this, and talk a little about my personal views on Patti Page. She most certainly was a page in the book of my life as well. What never ceases to amaze me is that every person I meet has their own view on Patti Page, and I’ve yet to meet anyone who’s never heard of her. Whether she is a pop singer, a country singer or a jazz singer depends on your taste in music – but Patti has done all kinds of music, and her versatility is just amazing…..

Patti Page (1927 - 2013)

Patti Page (1927 – 2013)

Born with the name Clara Ann Fowler on November 8 1927, the renamed Patti Page died on January 1 2013 at the Seacrest Village Retirement Community, of heart and lung ailments at the age of 85.

Patti is usually classified as one of the classic pop vocalists, which she is. She is also labelled a country singer, which is also correct. Even on some of her pop records, she added a certain country flavor. She did jazzy stuff with big bands, she did her share of silly novelty songs and she recorded an album of American hymns, and Christmas songs. Add to it a whole lot of different stuff; Patti did rock ‘n’ roll and twist, she recorded the English Version of the 1972 Eurovision Song Contest Winning entry, Vicky Leandros’ “Apres Toi”, she recorded Philly Soul (Gamble & Huffs “A Brand New Me”) in the late 60’s and Elton Johns theme from “The Lion King” movie, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” in the late 90’s. So checking out Pattis recorded legacy will have you finding a lot of well known songs, and quite a lot of musical surprises!

A very early LP, this 10" album collects her hits of the late 1940s

A very early LP, this 10″ album collects her hits of the late 1940s

Patti was known to be technically perfect, and usually the first take on any recording was used as the final product. So researchers have been known to be surprised that they never find any alternate takes, That of course also could be one reason there is such an incredible amount of records to be found – she used all her studio time very well, and she was known to learn new material very quickly.

Even from the late 1940s, Patti had albums released, and while a lot of them just collected her most recent hits and popular songs of the day, some of the others had more of a theme, ie. “The Waltz Queen”, her recording of Gordon Jenkins “Manhattan Tower” and her 1962 album “Sings Golden HIts of The Boys” which is a great collection of Patti doing songs that had been hits for male artists like Rick Nelson, Elvis Presley, The Everly Brothers and Chubby Checker… Playing these three albums back to back will give a you marvellous lesson in versatility!

Everybody knows Patti’s biggest hits; “Tennessee Waltz”, “”(How Much Is That) Doggie In The Window”, “Cross Over The Bridge”, “Old Cape Cod”, “Allegheny Moon” and others… And if those are the songs you want when you go buying Patti Page records, you can get several hundreds of best of/greatest hits collections that will satisfy your needs… If you want to dig a little deeper beyond those well known 50’s hits – you also have several options – some great collections that will no doubt be of great musical value.

50 years after her first record came out, this great box set was released in 1997

50 years after her first record came out, this great box set was released in 1997

The 4 disc box set “Golden Celebration” was released in 1997, celebrating her first 50 years as a singer. You get all her hits of the 50s and 60s on the first two discs. The Third disc contains her best country songs, and the fourth is dedicated to her more jazzy, big band material. The set also contains some songs that had been previously very hard to find. Highly recommended for all music lovers!

Patti herself chose to celebrate her 50th Anniversary as a singer with a concert in Carnegie Hall, that was recorded and later released on disc as “Live at Carnegie Hall – The 50th Anniversary Concert”, a disc that later won Patti her first Grammy Award in the category “Best Traditional Pop Record” – very well deserved!

Patti, an obviously happy 1997 Grammy Award winner. And for a new album none the less!

Patti, an obviously happy 1997 Grammy Award winner. And for a new album none the less!

In recent years, the UK based label Jasmine Records has given the world a musical gift that is truly great; they have put together no less than 3 very thorough collections, which are widely available in the webshops and also as downloads. With brilliant liner notes that contains the dates of recording and all other facts collectors might want to know. Put together, you get 267 different songs – and with it Patti Page at her very best, in a lot of different musical settings. They are pictured below, so you’ll know what to look for!

The first of the Jasmine box sets, "Near To You"

The first of the Jasmine box sets, “Near To You”

“Near To You – Celebrating a Career Defining Class” does what it says on the tin! You get 111 songs, mostly from the late 1940 and the 1950. Here’s the place to start your Patti Page musical Journey!

The second box set from Jasmine Records

The second box set from Jasmine Records

You will be transported back to “Another Time, Another Place” with the second of Jasmine Records box sets. This one contains more of her 50’s output, some of the 60’s country records, a couple of Christmas songs, some religious tracks, and it also includes some rarities not commercially released previously – even radio spots and jingles!

"Keep Me In Mind" is the last of the Jasmine Records collections of Patti Page

“Keep Me In Mind” is the last of the Jasmine Records collections of Patti Page

Added to the two previously mentioned box set, is the singe disc “Keep Me In Mind”. You get even more rarities here, some novelty tunes and some very hard to find tracks that were originally put out as 7″ B-sides, and after listening to all three collections, there is no way your mind will not be on Patti Page!

Many of the albums Patti recorded from the mid-1960’s onwards seem to be rather neglected, and most of them are deleted from the catalogues and are quite hard to find these days. Collectables have put out three “2 on 1” discs, at least giving 6 of those albums a limited re-release. If, however, you can find any of these original albums anywhere – my suggestion is that you just buy, buy, buy!! Keep an eye out for: “Say Wonderful Things” (1963), “Blue Dream Street” (1964), “Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte” (1965), “Today My Way” (1967), “Gentle On my Mind” (1969), “Stand By Your Man” and “Honey Come Back” (both 1970), “I’d Rather Be Sorry” (1971), “A Touch Of Country” (1979), “No Aces” (1981) and “Special Thoughts” (1982) – they are all worth having, and they all give you yet another perspective on the wonderful musical legacy of Patti Page!

After winning her 1997 Grammy, Patti ventured into the studios once more, and recorded what turned out to be her last regular album (it was followed by another Christmas disc) in 2000. Titled “Brand New Tennessee Waltz” it links Patti of the past with Patti of today in a great musical setting. Sounding mature and confident – it is a great contemporary country record, showing once and for all that even at age 73 Patti was right at home with the current trends, she still sang very well and sounded exactly right doing country music in the new millennium also…

Patti's last album, "Brand New Tennessee Waltz" came out in 2000

Patti’s last album, “Brand New Tennessee Waltz” came out in 2000

In addition to the title track, this album also includes that other, by now quite old “Tennessee Waltz” – redone 50 years after the original was made, and so you can favourably compare Patti’s versions and see which one you like the best. She does a bluesy cover of Tammy Wynette’s old hit “Til I Get It Right”, turning the song inside out, and making it sound like it was tailor made for Patti Page. By this time, after 53 years of making records, Patti had done everything at least once, she had sung her way into billions of hearts, had numerous hits, singles and albums on the charts – and she had done all of it exactly right!

Risë Stevens: 1913 – 2013

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Last month, on June 11, Risë Stevens should have celebrated her 100th birthday, but she died in March this year – at the age of 99 years and 9 months old…

She was of partial Norwegian heritage, and her birth name was Steenberg. As an opera singer, she was lauded in many ways and was awarded a lot of prestigious prizes. She was also the only mezzosoprano who got top billing in the opera houses around the world, that is usually an honor only bestowed upon the star sopranos.

In the late 1930's, With Nelson Eddy

In the late 1930’s, With Nelson Eddy

She made her operatic debut in 1936, and was actively singing opera up til the late 1960’s. After that she worked as a voice teacher for a lot of the singers at the Metropolitan. She also was the General Manager of the Metropolitan Opera National Company for several years. She obviously passed on the talent for acting to her only son, actor Nicholas Surovy. Miss Stevens was married to Nick’s father, Walther Surovy for 61 years.

Her "Carmen" in 1956 set the standards for how to interpret that role...

Her “Carmen” in 1956 set the standards for how to interpret that role…

On the opera stage, she played among other roles: Mignon, Dorabella, Cherubino, Octavian, Wagner’s “Fricka” and Prince Orlovsky. Above all she was the most celebrated Carmen of her day. She also headlined some lesser known operatic works, like  “La Figlia del Diavolo” and “Natoma”.

With Composer Richard Rogers - two great musical personalities

With Composer Richard Rogers – two great musical personalities

She was all about versatility, so in addition to being a great diva of the opera stage she also acted in films, on radio and television. She recorded a lot of songs from The American Songbook, and in musicals like “The King and I” and “Lady in the Dark”. She toured the U.S. annually for several decades singing recitals, which she loved doing – and she was very good at it.

Her looks and her voice were both high quality, as proven by this 1960's photo

Her looks and her voice were both high quality, as proven by this 1960’s photo

Her musical achievements are well documented on records and films – and a lot of her best work is also available on CD and as digital downloads.

As a mezzosporano, she was maybe unsurpassed, and she certainly was an equal to Marilyn Horne. If you want to hear Risë Stevens sing somer lighter material, from the great popular composers & musicals, get the collection “Dearly Beloved”. it is a beautiful sample of one of the last century’s best voices doing some of the best songs from the great American songbook! Highly recommended!

A great collection! Risë sings some great songs from the classic age of pop

A great collection! Risë sings some great songs from the classic age of pop

Not many artists live to be almost one hundred years old, and certainly not many of them can look back on a life on so many stages doing such an array of varied tasks. The stages were lit up not only by the great voice of Miss Stevens, but also her charm, grace and beauty.

How to look absolutely stunning even when you're 100!

How to look absolutely stunning even when you’re pushing 100!

For me personally, she has given me a lot of cherished musical memories, and I am really sorry I’m not old enough to have seen her on stage as Carmen. And so ends my tribute to the late, great Miss Risë Stevens….,

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