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Lurlean Hunter's Chicago

This Lurlean Hunter song, "My Home Town Chicago," was posted on YouTube over the weekend, presumably on the occasion of her birthday on Saturday . . .

. . . and that sent me on a journey to learn more about Hunter, who died in 1983 at the age of 63.

Let's take a look at what I found.


From Wikipedia:

"Born in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Hunter was taken to Chicago when she was two months old. She attended Englewood High School.

"Hunter's first paid singing performance came when she appeared with Red Saunders and his orchestra at Club DeLisa on Chicago's South Side. She was signed by Discovery Records in 1950.

"In 1951, Hunter was a featured performer with George Shearing and his quintet at Birdland in New York City. Later that year, she was among a group of 'rising young stars of jazz' presented at the Streamliner night club in Chicago. Other Chicago venues at which she performed included the Club Silhouette and the Cloister Inn, where an initial four-week booking turned into a 2 1/2-year stay. Her work in other cities included singing at the Jazz Villa in St. Louis, the Roosevelt Hotel in New York, and the Circus Lounge in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

"In 1961, Hunter began recording for Atlantic, with Blue and Sentimental as her first album for that label. She also recorded for RCA Victor.

"In 1963, Hunter became the first African-American performer hired by WBBM radio in Chicago. After a successful on-air audition, she became a member of the staff of the all-live Music Wagon Show. On August 2, 1968, National Educational Television jazz broadcast featured Hunter, accompanied by the Vernel Fournier Trio, performing 'ballads and blues, old and new.'

"Hunter made commercials for products including peas and telephone directories."

And at least one politician.

"OK, Otto Kerner."


From Fresh Sound Records:

"Lurlean Hunter (1928-1983) was, with all her skills, one of the most underappreciated singers in America. Other singers, who held her in universal high regard, were in no doubt as to her quality. A singers singer, she was revered for her near perfection in vocal styling, technique, and delivery, gifts she blended into a captivating combination."


The Velvet Voice Sampler.


On Nat King Cole's TV show, broadcast from Chicago, in 1957.

And then a duet with the host.



"The Party's Over."



"Lonesome Gal."



"As Long As I Live."


"The lounge, in business from 1966 to 1978, featured such jazz artists as Johnny Hartman, Carmen McRae, Clark Terry and Lurlean Hunter, after whom it was named."


Comments welcome.


1. From Bob Fischer:

Wow! Thanks for that. A beautiful voice with spot-on pitch interpreting the lyrics with emotion. Another underrated singer of that era also sang around Chicago: Jeri Southern. You might want to check her out if you're not familiar with her work. Not as pure a voice as Lurlean's, but nonetheless distinctive.

Reply: Thanks, Bob. I was going to continue the journey with a post on Club DeLisa, but maybe I'll take on Jeri Southern next.


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