Bobby Short Biography

Robert Waltrip Short, 15 September 1924, Danville, Illinois, USA, d. 21 March 2005, New York, USA. A self-taught pianist, Short worked in vaudeville as a child and sang in clubs and on radio in Chicago, operating under the nickname of ‘the Miniature King of Swing’. In mid-1937 he went to New York where he played and sang for audiences unprepared for smart-suited sophistication from a pre-teenager. Short went back to school, but, influenced by the stylish performances of such nightclub artists as Hildegarde, he continued to hone his act. When he returned to showbusiness he toured extensively, eventually spending some time on the west coast. By the early 50s he had matured into a sophisticated singer and pianist. Whether in Los Angeles, New York or Paris, he played the most exclusive nightclubs, establishing a reputation as a witty purveyor of songs. Short’s audience began to diminish in the 60s with the rise of the new rock movement but he bounced back in 1968 with a highly successful live album recorded at Manhattan Town Hall with singer Mabel Mercer. His club appearances over the subsequent years at such places as New York’s Café Carlyle and 21 earned him a loyal following. Short’s vocal range was limited, and accordingly he sang with an engaging restraint. He died of leukaemia in March 2005.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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