Remembering Teddi King

Sheer Joy in Singing

For those who never had a chance to hear Teddi King, there is In the Beginning: 1949-1954, a Teddi King compilation produced by Ted Ono, who devotes his Baldwin Street Music label in Toronto exclusively to singers he cherishes. The collection is in record stores, and on his Web site (www.baldwinstreetmusic.com). Among her colleagues on the recordings were Nat Pierce, George Shearing, Dick Hyman, Milt Hinton, and Don Lamond.

In his notes, Ted Ono points out that although in her brief career Teddi "had one Top 40 hit, 'Mr. Wonderful,' and subsequent offers to play major theaters and hotels, she felt uncomfortable with [her later] status as a pop singer. She preferred playing jazz dates but jazz programs on radio and television completely ignored her."

On In the Beginning, there are such jazz sides as "'Swonderful," "Who's Sorry Now?" "What Is This Thing Called Love?" and "This Magic Moment," with Charlie Shavers on trumpet. And the early pop tracks are models of their kind.

Ono quotes David Drew Zingg on Teddi: "A girl, a woman, a musician, a singer, and a jazzman . . . with a voice that can either fill a hall or whisper tender love poems . . . with equally telling effect. . . . It's an unabashed statement she makes, whether of hurt or joy. No fancy type she. No echo-chamber carom shots off steely-edged tonsils."

Teddi didn't beat lupus, but with research, there's hope for others.

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