05/27/12

Singer Carrie Smith Dead at 86

Versatile vocalist sang jazz, blues, gospel and Broadway

Carrie Smith, a singer who traversed the worlds of Broadway, jazz, blues and gospel music, died May 20 in Englewood, N.J. She was 86 and the cause was cancer.

Born in Georgia in 1925 (other sources, reportedly false, say 1941), Smith was raised on the music of the church and taught herself to play piano. She performed at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival as part of a New Jersey gospel choir. In 1961 she performed solo at Town Hall in new York. But she didn’t become well known until the late 1960s, with Big Tiny Little.

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Carrie Smith
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In 1974 she played Bessie Smith in the show Satchmo Remembered at Carnegie Hall. She also performed with the New York Jazz Repertory Orchestra, the World’s Greatest Jazz Band, Tyree Glenn, Yank Lawson and others, and she starred in the Broadway production of Black and Blue from 1989 to 1991.

Smith, whose popularity was greater in Europe than in the U.S., recorded a number of albums as a leader beginning in 1976 with Confessin’ the Blues. Her last release was 2002’s I’ve Got a Right to Sing the Blues.

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