Carol Sloane Biography

Carol Morvan, 5 March 1937, Providence, Rhode Island, USA. While still only 14 years old, Sloane sang with a local dance band, Ed Drew’s, owing to the active encouragement of her piano- and saxophone-playing Uncle Joe. By her late teens she had gained sufficient experience to be hired by the popular dance band led by the brothers Les And Larry Elgart. In 1960 she briefly deputized for Annie Ross with Lambert, Hendricks And Ross, and the following year sang at the Newport Jazz Festival. This event opened many doors for her. She made her first record album and appeared at a succession of New York nightclubs, including many that were on the stand-up comic circuit, which thus found her singing talents providing contrast with artists such as Woody Allen, Bill Cosby and Lenny Bruce.

She also made a number of television appearances singing with the Lyle ‘Skitch’ Henderson band on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. The end of the 60s found Sloane in much less demand, her very real and intensely musical talent being somewhat out of step with audience demands. She moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, taking employment as a legal secretary: ‘I lived a different life (in the South), among sweet wonderful people, and I spent good, productive years there, even if the rest of the world didn’t know it.’ In the late 70s she returned to New York where she worked with the pianist Jimmy Rowles, one of the outstanding accompanists of jazz singers of his and any other day. By the early 80s she was working in radio, again in North Carolina, but then moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where she sang in clubs, hosted a radio show, and was married (to club owner Buck Spurr).

Her recording career had been sporadic, although it included a fine 1978 album with Rowles, but in the early 90s it went into high gear with a succession of albums for Concord Records. All were very good indeed, with her 1995 tribute to her good friend Carmen McRae, on which she was joined by alto saxophonist Phil Woods, being one of the outstanding vocal albums of the year, if not the decade. Sloane is a regular visitor to Japan where she appears at festivals. A consummate interpreter of ballads, Sloane draws her extensive repertoire from many areas of the field, happily mixing standards with jazz classics and the more arcane reaches of the popular songwriters’ canon. In all her work there is poise and distinction and when she moves to mid- and up-tempo tunes she swings with flair and great drive. In an age where subtlety and finesse are either largely absent or, if present, widely misunderstood, Sloane’s name is by no means as well known as she deserves. She is one of the great exponents in a long tradition of fine vocal artists in jazz and popular music.

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

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