JAZZ: Did the female jazz singing stars stiffle the competition?

Welcome to Tony's (Jazz) Treasure trove; a regular series of posts on a subject he knows well. He's on a mission to shine a light on superb performers who are often unknown and shouldn't be!

Self-confessed jazz fanatic Tony Andrews writes ...

A lot of CD's pass my way and one did recently that made me ask the question, are some of the highly rated female singers actually overrated. The CD in question was the early works of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday.  The CD was a freebie out of the Sunday Times and the recordings of Ella are early stuff where I think she was probably at her best with a pureness which got lost in later life.

All of the Billie Holiday tracks come from the era of her best efforts after all she did not live to a ripe old age. Both singers without doubt have immense talent although I am sure it is the quirkiness of Billie Holiday which is endeering not the quality of her voice. The same can be said for the current efforts of Madeline Peyroux who is raved about for the laid back almost lazy interpretations she creates.
There is a place in the arts and music for all sorts of things to cater for everyones tastes. I just feel that many American and British singers don't get a fair crack at the whip when it comes to being fairly judged and so I intend to try and put things right with a series of articles to highlight the singers that nearly got away.

If you do manage to find a copy of this Sunday Times CD in a charity shop or jumble then sale buy it. The stand out tracks from Ella are "Moonlight in Vermont" and "Tenderly" and the tracks from Billie Holiday are "Autumn in New York" "Tenderly".

I hope I have not inflamed any passionate feelings about either of these singers, I just feel there were and are singer equally as good or even better but we do not open up our minds enough to appreciate them. There is just to much hype about where we believe things to be much better than they actually are and the general public seem scared to question this.

I recently had a discussion with a young man who was convinced that some US rap star was the best singer in the world.  When I questioned this and how he had come to this conclusion his answer was "He must be the best singer he has the highest paid recording contract ever", I rest my case.