Blossom Dearie dead at 82


Despite some late-in-the-game nods from indie film (if you saw The Squid and the Whale, you're at least subconsciously familiar with her), Blossom Dearie isn't a part of the common musical vocabulary. In the lexicon of 20th century music, Dearie is definitely a ten cent word, something more likely to pop up on the GRE's than the SAT's.

But anyone old enough (or nostalgic enough) to have watched Schoolhouse Rock is at least peripherally familiar with her chipper, can-do vocal styling. And for those scholarly or aware enough to have dug into her lengthy recording history with Verve and Capitol in the 1950s and 60s, her contributions to the musical canvas of her time period were of uncommon color and vibrancy.

Her voice is pure molten silk, the stuff of brandy snifters and a fire in the hearth glowing down to the embers, and the majority of her catalog tastes delightfully of the genteel supperclubs in which much of her career unfolded.

She is often categorized as a bebop singer, but much of her most recognizable material is of the lower tempo and softer register, nearly reminiscent of bossa nova sounds like "Girl from Ipanema," albeit with grander orchestration.

With her best known album, May I Come In?, distributed by Capitol/EMI in 1964, Dearie re-entered public consciousness when she lent her voice to the popular Schoolhouse Rock series of the 1970's, most notably with the song "Figure Eight" (shown above). 

If you've never heard of her until now, don't waste energy on embarrassment. Instead, get yourself to Cheapo Uptown, go downstairs to the vinyl, pick out a battered copy of May I Come In?, and pour yourself some blackberry brandy. Her endless buoyancy is the perfect thing to get you through these last weeks of winter.