Nancy LaMott Biography

30 December 1951, Midland, Michigan, USA, d. 13 December 1995, New York City, New York, USA. As a child, LaMott sang with a band led by her father but as a teenager was frequently seriously ill and often hospitalized with what was eventually diagnosed as Crohn’s Disease, a bowel and immune disorder. Sensing that she had potential as a singer, and accompanied by her brother, who played drums for her, at the age of 19 she moved to San Francisco. There, she soon developed a following but illness and the hospitalization this necessitated made progress difficult. Her disease was treated with cortisone and prescription painkillers and this, in time, led inadvertently to addictive and eating disorders but she continued with her singing. Determined to succeed in New York, she soon made a name in the world of sophisticated cabaret but was plagued by illness, consequent surgery, and was dogged by financial problems generated by her high medical bills.

In 1989 composer-conductor David Friedman offered to produce a record and the result, ‘Beautiful Baby’, became locally popular. Together with pianist-arranger Chris Marlowe and director Scott Barnes, LaMott began making more records. Her medical problems remained acute and she was often hospitalized. She had intestinal bypass surgery and an ileostomy. Following this, and able to eat normally, LaMott gained strength and enthusiasm. She toured, enjoyed popularity on radio and television, and sang twice at the White House for President and Mrs. Clinton. Then, in early 1995, she was diagnosed with uterine cancer. In order that she could complete Listen To My Heart, an album orchestrated by Peter Matz, she chose hormone therapy rather than yet more surgery. Around this time, she met actor Pete Zapp in San Francisco and the couple began a long-range romance. In midsummer it was decided that a hysterectomy was necessary, but LaMott decided to postpone this to allow her to fulfil an engagement at the Algonquin. Subsequent surgery confirmed that the cancer had spread and chemotherapy was needed. She continued to perform in clubs and concert halls, being recorded live at Tavern On The Green seven weeks before her death, interspersing performances with treatment and rest. In the last hour of her life, she and Zapp were married.

The six albums LaMott made became collectors items, selling not only to those who heard her during her lifetime but also those who have come posthumously to appreciate the quality of voice and style she brought to the Great American Songbook. Eventually, an agreement was reached with her estate and all are now available on CD. Additionally, live performances of previously unreleased material were discovered and plans made for more CDs and DVDs incorporating live performances and interviews together with a television movie of the week.

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

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