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Teresa Brewer, Pop and Jazz Singer, Dies at 76

Teresa Brewer, a singer whose career began with a string of pop hits in the 1950s and who later graduated to jazz, died in her New Rochelle, New York home on October 17th of a neuromuscular disease. Brewer, best known for her 1950 chart-topper “Music! Music! Music!,” was 76.

Born Theresa Breuer in Toledo, Ohio in 1931, Brewer first sang publicly at age 2, singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” on a radio program. Three years later she won a contest singing on the Major Bower Amateur Hour radio show and toured with the show until age 12. She moved to New York and began recording for the London label in 1949. “Music! Music! Music!” came the following year, and stayed at number one for four weeks. Switching to the Coral label, she scored her biggest career hit in early 1953 with “Till I Waltz Again with You.” Brewer’s other ’50s hits included “Let Me Go, Lover,” “A Tear Fell,” “A Sweet Old Fashioned Girl” and, in 1957, “You Send Me,” a cover of a Sam Cooke hit. In 1953 she starred in the film Those Redheads from Seattle. That same year she co-starred with Mel Torme on a TV variety program, Summertime USA.

She remained popular throughout the ’50s and early ’60s, headlining in nightclubs in addition to recording and appearing on television (including The Ed Sullivan Show, on which she appeared nearly 40 times). In 1962 Brewer signed with Philips Records, recording eight albums over the next four years.

Brewer withdrew from the business in the late ’60s to raise her four daughters, but in the early ’70s, now married to Bob Thiele, who had produced some of her early records, Brewer recast herself as a jazz singer. She reactivated her recording career, performing with such greats as Count Basie, Earl “Fatha” Hines and Stephane Grappelli. She collaborated with Duke Ellington on his album It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing and also recorded an album with drummer Shelly Manne.

Brewer continued to record and perform in concert into the 1990s. Her 1978 Carnegie Hall concert featured Grappelli and Dizzy Gillespie. In 1991 she recorded a tribute album to Louis Armstrong that included Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis, Roy Hargrove and others. She spent the last years of her life in New York.

Originally Published