The Girlish Voice Of Blossom Dearie

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Blossom Dearie, from the cover of her album Blossom Time at Ronnie Scott's. hide caption

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Blossom Dearie

Blossom Dearie, from the cover of her album Blossom Time at Ronnie Scott's.

Blossom Dearie — that's her real name — has been a fixture on the New York nightclub scene for decades. The singer and pianist is known for her girlish voice, unusual choice of material and jazz-influenced style of singing. Karen Michel visited Dearie in New York and prepared this profile.

Most artists won't stop talking about themselves. Blossom Dearie is quite the opposite.

"I'd rather not go into this biography," she says. "It's just — it's — I find it boring."

Dearie's past is actually far from boring. It's rumored that the singer won't talk about it because she's reluctant to reveal her age, fearing that the truth will alienate younger listeners.

Blossom Dearie was born sometime in the 1920s in upstate New York. By the late 1940s, she had become part of the New York City jazz scene, hanging out with Miles Davis, his arranger Gil Evans, baritone saxophonist Gerry Mulligan and singer Dave Lambert. They'd get together to listen to and talk about the music Evans would bring home from the public library. He was the only one with a library card.

"I learned a lot about the music from those fellows, really," she says. "They were a very important part of my early musical education."

A good deal of Dearie's repertoire relies on humor. She can make a funny song really funny, and she can also make a seemingly funny song dead serious.

"I know it's — I guess it used to be called deadpan humor," Dearie says of herself. "I don't what it would be called now, but I think years ago it was called deadpan humor. That's the kind of humor that I can portray. I can't do other kinds of humorous things, you know."

Over the years, Dearie has put out nearly 20 albums. Four are currently available on her own label, Daffodil Records, and there's another on Polygram. While she's well past the age of the MTV generation, Dearie has plans beyond the compact disc.

"I'm going to do a — well, at least a 15-minute video, and I would like it to be an hour," she says. "But we'll see how it goes."

For the forward-thinking Blossom Dearie, laser discs can't be far behind.

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