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Singer Rebecca Parris Dies at 66

“Boston’s First Lady of Jazz” was a performer and teacher to the end

Rebecca Parris
Rebecca Parris at the Spire Theater in Plymouth, Mass., March 31, 2018

In Carmen McRae’s suitcase throughout her last year of touring was a tape of Rebecca Parris’ 1990 album, Love Comes and Goes. McRae told Parris that the recording was among her prized selection of “travel music.”

Now Parris’ traveling, like McRae’s, is over. “Boston’s First Lady of Jazz,” as she was known, died on June 17 at the age of 66 at Cape Cod Hospital in South Yarmouth, Mass. A blonde, zaftig, vivacious earth mother with a voice as deep and swaggering as a tenor saxophone, Parris could blow on a standard with freewheeling imagination worthy of Ben Webster, and she swung just as hard.

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