August 21, 2010

Nancy LaMott

The first time I heard Nancy LaMott's voice was at Christmas time in a nick-nack store connected to the Popover Café, a restaurant on Amsterdam Avenue, just North of 86th Street, the same place where Barbra Streisand waltzed through the door moments after her name was invoked by my dinner companions in idle conversation- causing near hysteria.  But that is another story. LaMott's haunting voice soared over the simple yet arresting piano accompaniment of The Christmas Song in such an affecting way that I stopped dead in my tracks.  Half the song went by and I didn't move.  Amazed at what I was hearing, I turned to a man behind the counter and asked: "Who is that?" He replied. "That's Nancy LaMott.  My partner produced her albums."  And then he stopped, took a moment, and said in a lower voice: "You know, she's not with us anymore."  My jaw dropped open.  No.  I didn't know.  How had I missed her?  I bought LaMott's Just in time for Christmas CD right on the spot.  



I've been fascinated with LaMott's voice ever since.  She used a 'mixed' voice as well as a soft heady tone, sometimes alternating between the two within a song with consummate skill.  As well, her singing always had 'line', and you could understand every word.  No histrionics.  Just a direct and honest approach.  Truly, she was the greatest cabaret singer of her generation.  Jonathan Schwartz, host of American Popular Standards at WNYC went further saying:

"She was the greatest cabaret singer since Sinatra." 

The proof is in the pudding. Here she is singing Rodger's and Hammerstein's I Have Dreamed from The King and I.  Again, the accompaniment is spare and masterful, and showcases LaMott's voice beautifully.  And here she is singing Too Late Now.   Lastly, here she is singing I'll Be Here With You.

Her voice, more than anything, has heart, a quality that can't be taught as much as lived.

Please visit her website to obtain her music.

Lastly, special note needs to be given to Christopher Marlowe, who wrote the arrangements that provided a gorgeous setting for LaMott's jewel of a voice. You can be find them here.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful! My favourite song by her is Moon River (from Come rain or come shine). It's sung accompanied by just a piano and it's such an understated elegance. I can see why you like her voice. It's meticulous in terms of her phrasing and style of singing just like Maggie Teyte was in the art of leider songs. Just time for Christmas is such an haunting album which I listen to every Christmas. Some Children See Him, the opening track of the album is my favourite. She sang like a bell, absolutely crystal clear and her voice was so pure..you can hear every word. What a pity that she died so young!! Her records used to be so rare but now, at least you can buy them online. Thanks for sharing this amazing singer.

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