Saturday, November 15, 2008

Merely Mabel

Chez elle, Miss Janey is pondering who, exactly, might best deserve the to be considered The Voice of Rock 'n' Roll.

In my own preferred genre, Cabaret, while there are stars, legends, and heavenly creatures aplenty, there really is only one contender for top spot, a singer equally revered by crooners like Sinatra and art-song singers like Joan Morris and Dawn Upshaw (and pretty much everybody in between).

She, of course, was (is, and evermore shall be) Miss Mabel Mercer, the Empress of all Saloon Singers.

Regal in her stage presence - usually seated, always elegantly gowned, often draped in a shawl put to good use as her only prop - Mercer ruled the rarefied world of club singing with poise, grace, and a voice that was, by the end, a whisper of a soprano combined with the diction of an angel.

My favorite of her songs - and of her albums - sums her up just about perfectly.

With all due respect to mine and everybody's favorites (since I know that TJB is bound to bring up the also fabulous Miss Maye), when it comes to how sing the Great American Song: Mabel Mercer was more than Merely Marvelous. She is The Voice.

And - as is true of all Great Stars - my goodness, couldn't she just rock a turban?

1 comment:

  1. Appreciating the fabulous Mabel Mercer is a rite of passage into adulthood, I think; I'd always heard that she was the reference point for every great singer who followed in her path, but when I first heard her, in my late teens, I was left scratching my head. The plummy diction; the sometimes-precious material; the decidedly old-fashioned arrangements (her 1956 Cole Porter album is a stark contrast to the hi-fi offerings of Ella) all went over my head.

    Only now can I really say, "Aha! I get it." And, of course, she is THE one when it comes to the art of nightclub/cabaret singing.