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Jackie Cain, of Jackie and Roy Duo, Dies at 86

An early proponent of vocalese also noted for her harmony singing

Jackie and Roy
Jackie and Roy

Singer Jackie Cain, whose professional partnership with her husband, Roy Kral-as Jackie and Roy-endured for more than 50 years, died Sept. 15 in her Montclair, N.J., home. A cause of death was not noted, but Cain had been in ill health since suffering a stroke in 2010.

Cain, who turned pro at 17, was working with Jay Burkhart’s band when, in 1947, she sat in on a number being performed by Kral’s band in a Chicago nightclub. The pair teamed up as a duo first, worked with saxophonist Charlie Ventura in 1948-49, then married and broke off on their own in 1949. They remained together as husband and wife and as a musical entity until Kral’s death in 2002.

The couple forged a swinging take on bebop that incorporated their tight vocal harmonies, and Cain was praised for her scat singing as well as her sensitivity with a ballad. They are credited as being among the originators of the vocalese style of singing; their repertoire encompassed standards and pop, bossa nova, show tunes and more, even rock hits. They also made TV commercials but ultimately returned to straight jazz.

Jacqueline Ruth Cain, born in Milwaukee on May 22, 1928, began singing as a child. After establishing the act with Kral, she was in demand for her photogenic looks as well as her voice, and the duo hosted their own TV program in the early ’50s; they then worked in Las Vegas for three years at the end of that decade. In the ’60s, they moved to New York. The couple had two daughters, the elder of whom was killed in a car crash at age 20.

Jackie and Roy recorded more than 40 albums together, beginning in 1955, for such labels as Columbia, Verve, ABC-Paramount, Capitol, CTI and Concord. Cain’s last notable performance was in 2007 at a tribute to composer Alec Wilder.

Originally Published