Bergen Record of Hackensack NJ
By JIM BECKERMAN
Teri Thornton, once called by Cannonball
Adderley "the greatest voice since
Fitzgerald" and seemingly poised
comeback, died in Englewood on Tuesday
complications from bladder cancer.
She was 65.
After falling into obscurity, where
for years, the jazz singer-pianist
sensational return to the spotlight
two years ago:
first by winning a $20,000 prize
Monk International Jazz
Competition, then by scoring a contract
with the Verve label.
"I'll Be Easy to Find," her first
album in 35
years, was widely praised by critics
and rated a
spot in the Village Voice's "10
Best" jazz list for
Diagnosed with cancer in 1997, Ms.
had been living in the Actor's Fund
Englewood while in remission.
"I am the cockeyed optimist," Ms.
told The Record last year. "I always
you're due for something, if you've
around long enough."
Despite her precarious health, her
January engagement at Manhattan's
Vanguard drew celebrities such as
Eastwood, Wynton Marsalis, and "60
correspondent Ed Bradley.
"She was a great singer," fellow
Lincoln said Thursday. "She doesn't
anybody else. You know it's her
when you hear
her. I'm sorry that she's gone.
It makes me feel
A Detroit native and child of a
mother and Pullman porter father,
Thornton was a self-taught musician
performing professionally by age
By 1961 she recorded her first album,
May Care," and in 1963 her rendition
"Somewhere in the Night," the theme
the popular ABC-TV series "Naked
became a Billboard Top 10 hit.
But by the late 1960s, her career
foundering. She moved to Los Angeles
three children and took odd jobs,
driving a cab, to make ends meet.
In 1983, she
moved back to New York and began
reestablish her singing career.
"She was constantly rallying --
comeback after comeback," said friend
manager Suzi Reynolds. "I think
thing is that she lived to see how
loved and admired and respected
Ms. Thornton was married three times.
Survivors include two sons, Kenneth
of Detroit and Kelly Glusovich of
New York; a
daughter, Rose McKinney-James
of Las Vegas,
and six grandchildren.
A memorial service will be
May 21 at 7:30 p.m.
at St. Peter Church, Lexington
Avenue and 54th
Local arrangements are by
Home in Englewood. Services
will be Tuesday
Teri Thornton, 65, jazz singer
ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (AP) - Teri Thornton, a
jazz singer who won critical acclaim in the 1960s and
late 1990s and suffered near-career
oblivion in between, died Tuesday from complications of bladder cancer.
She was 65.
Her career highlights included singing
``Somewhere in the Night,'' the theme for the television show ``Naked City,''
in 1962, and winning the Thelonius
Monk International Jazz Competition, one of the most prestigious in
jazz, in 1998.
Thornton, a Detroit native, started
performing in the 1950s. She moved to New York in 1960, and
landed national television spots,
club dates and record deals. But her career never had the sustained momentum
she hoped for, and the dates began fizzling out.
A move to Los Angeles didn't help
her career, and Thornton returned to New York in 1983, where she found
steady work with small jazz bands.
It was in 1998, after Thornton had
been diagnosed with cancer, that she had her comeback by winning the Monk
competition, then releasing her first album in decades on Verve Records.
Teri Thornton Dies
Jazz vocalist Teri Thornton, whose
victory in the 1998
Born in Detroit on Sept. 1, 1934, Thornton's star was on the
Thelonious Monk International Jazz
led to a career renaissance, including
a recording contract
with Verve, died at New Jersey's
Tuesday night from complications
from bladder cancer.
She was 65.
rise in the early 1960s with the release of her debut album,
Devil May Care, and her recording of "Somewhere In The
Night," the theme song from the television series Naked City.
After releasing two more albums, including 1963's Open
Highway on Columbia, Thornton's career slowed down.
Thornton then spent years out of the limelight, raising her
children and channeling her creative energies into songwriting.
In the early 1980s, she returned to performing, singing
standards and accompanying herself on piano in New York
City rooms such as Zinno's and Cleopatra's Needle. In the late
1990s, Thornton was diagnosed with cancer.
After fighting the disease into remission, Thornton's manager,
Suzi Reynolds, entered her into the Monk Competition.
Thornton won the contest and was signed to Verve Records
soon after, releasing her first album in nearly 35 years, I'll Be
Easy To Find, in October 1999.
"All of us at The Verve Music Group will miss our dear friend
Teri Thornton," said Ron Goldstein, president of the Verve
Music Group. "We are grateful that we had the opportunity to
work with her and her manager, Suzi Reynolds, on the release
of her last studio album and tour. It was a privilege and an
honor to have been associated with someone who, in the
wake of a devastating and prolonged illness, lived her life with
so much courage, fortitude, and dignity." ~Downbeatjazz.com
Is Dead at 65; Jazz Singer Had Hits in 1960's
By BEN RATLIFF
Teri Thornton, a jazz singer who had started
to resurrect her career
after winning the Thelonious Monk International
Jazz Competition in 1998
and being signed to a major record label
for the first time in three
decades, died on Tuesday at Englewood
Hospital and Medical Center in New
Jersey. She was 65 and lived at the Actors'
Fund Home in Englewood.
The cause was cancer of the bladder, said
her manager, Suzi Reynolds.
Ms. Thornton had a husky, keening voice
with a muscly vibrato; she was a
vibrant performer with a caustic sense
of humor, and she was
particularly gifted at coaxing harmonic
complexity and emotion out of
She was born in Detroit, where her parents,
Robert Avery, a Pullman
porter, and Burniece Crews Avery, a choir
director and singer who was
the host of a local radio show, encouraged
her to study classical music.
Ms. Thornton, whose original name was Shirley
Enid Avery, took up jazz
instead, learning to sing and play the
piano. By the age of 19, she was
a divorced mother of two and had not yet
begun to sing professionally.
But she found a spot at the Ebony Club
in Cleveland and within a few
years was living in Chicago and appearing
with the saxophonists Johnny
Griffin and Cannonball Adderley and finding
work as the intermission
pianist for strippers at the Red Garter
Her career took off in 1961, with the
release of her album "Devil May
Care," in which she sang in the company
of the pianist Wynton Kelly and
the Count Basie sidemen Clark Terry and
Freddie Green. Her biggest hit,
"Somewhere in the Night," came a year
later; it had been the theme of
the television series "Naked City," and
she found herself singing it on
"The Ed Sullivan Show" and other variety
Ms. Thornton was signed by Columbia Records,
and her exposure increased.
She took part in a television program
celebrating Duke Ellington's 40th
anniversary in music, and Ella Fitzgerald
told Down Beat magazine that
Ms. Thornton was her favorite singer.
But at that point, her career started
to slide. She attributed her
downfall not only to the rise of rock
'n' roll but also to bad
management and her addiction to drugs
and alcohol. She moved to Los
Angeles in the late 1960's and throughout
the next decade took what jobs
were available, including driving a taxi.
In 1979 she began her career again, playing
and singing in piano bars.
After moving to New York in the early
1980's she became a regular at
small restaurant clubs like Zinno's and
She was performing at the Bern Jazz Festival
in Switzerland in 1998 when
she collapsed and underwent emergency
surgery. Cancer was diagnosed and
she underwent radiation and chemotherapy
treatments, but she decided to
compete in the Thelonious Monk competition
in Washington. The strength
of her performance was undeniable, Peter
Watrous wrote in The New York
Times. She won the $20,000 prize "by singing
well and digging into some
of the best aspects of black entertainment
culture, the parts that make
audience members and performers join in
the same experience."
Verve Records signed her, and she made
an album called "I'll Be Easy to
Find." In January she filled a weeklong
engagement at the Village
Vanguard in Manhattan.
Ms. Thornton is survived by two sons,
Kenneth Thornton of Detroit and
Kelly Glusovich of New York; a daughter,
Rose McKinney-James of Las
Vegas; and six grandchildren.
|Note from usernet:
I heard Teri in Greenwich Village with
her band a couple years ago and yes, she was the real deal. I had the pleasure
of talking with her after the gig about her work in LA during the 60s where
at one point she used to do some recording sessions with my
father. I was thrilled to see her back on the scene and getting such
positive attention as she deserved. I'm glad that happened before she left
us. She was a wonderful lady, the little I got to know her.
Ellery Eskelin/Michelle Van Natta
Ramichellery/Prime Source Productions