Keely Smith Biography

Dorothy Jaqueline Keely Smith, 9 March 1932, Norfolk, Virginia, USA. A jazzy singer most famous for her work with her husband, band leader Louis Prima. Smith made her professional debut with Prima in 1949, and the couple were married in July 1953. As well as her solo spots with the big band, she frequently duetted with Prima on stylized versions of well-known songs. In 1958, one of these, Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen’s ‘That Ol’ Black Magic’ became a surprise US Top 20 hit. The duo followed up with the minor successes ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ and ‘Bei Mir Bist Du Schön’, a revival of the 1937 Andrews Sisters hit. Smith appeared with Prima in the 1959 movie Hey Boy! Hey Girl!, singing ‘Fever’, and also appeared in and sang on the soundtrack of the previous year’s Thunder Road. In 1961, Smith separated from Prima and signed to Reprise Records, where her musical director was Nelson Riddle. In 1965, she had Top 20 hits in the UK with an album of Beatles compositions and a version of ‘You’re Breaking My Heart’. After marrying producer Jimmy Bowen, Smith retired from music to concentrate on raising her children. She made a well-received comeback in 1985 with I’m In Love Again. Fifteen years later, at the age of 68, and following the leap in popularity of her late husband’s work, Smith recorded a new album which proved to be one of the best of her career. Subsequent recordings saw Smith appearing in the bestselling lists with some regularity.

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