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Chris Connor

Chris Connor was among the most popular '50s vocalists, famous for altering rhythms on ballads, using little vibrato except on special occasions, and accentuating her husky, lush sound. She began singing in her late teens, sang with Claude Thornhill and Herbie Fields, then joined Stan Kenton to record her most famous performance, "All About Ronnie." Connor went solo in the early '50s and made popular, successful recordings for Bethlehem and Atlantic. She reached the height of her popularity when she delivered celebrated versions of "Lush Life" and "Lullaby of Broadway." Following a period of semi-retirement, Connor made a comeback in the mid-'70s and recorded latter-day dates for Progressive, Stash, Contemporary, and Enja. At the University of Missouri, Connor (who had studied clarinet at an early age) sang with a Stan Kentonish big band led by trombonist Bob Brookmeyer before leaving her native Kansas City for New York in 1947. Quite appropriately, she was featured in the lyrical pianist Claude Thornhill's orchestra in the early '50s. After leaving Thornhill, Connor was hired by Kenton at Christy's recommendation, and her ten-month association with him in 1952-1953 resulted in the hit "All About Ronnie." Connor debuted as a solo artist in 1953, recording three albums for Bethlehem before moving to Atlantic in 1955 and recording 12. Connor reached the height of her popularity in the 1950s, when she delivered her celebrated versions of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" and George Shearing's "Lullaby of Broadway," and recorded such excellent albums as The Rich Sound of Chris Connor and Lullabies of Birdland for Bethlehem and Chris Craft and Ballads of the Sad Cafe for Atlantic. Connor made a poor career move in 1962, the year she left Atlantic and signed with a label her manager was starting, FM Records -- Connor had recorded only two albums for FM when they folded. Connor's recording career was rejuvenated in the 1970s, and she went on to record for Progressive, Stash, and Contemporary in the '70s and '80s. Connor maintained a devoted following in the 1990s and continued to tour internationally.
© Alex Henderson /TiVo


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