(b Vranje, Serbia, June 11, 1897; d Feb 21, 1969). Serbian singer (pesmopojka) and song writer. She was one of the most prominent performers of the 20th-century Serbian and Balkan urban vocal tradition. Widely known as a veseljak (lively character), she was respected for her fidelity to local traditions, for her intensely expressive and nuanced vocal style, and for her dedication to bring out the meaning of the texts she sang. She started singing at a very early age; as a young girl she was paid for her singing. She sang in her own home on everyday occasions, to guests, and at family and public celebrations. Her repertory encompassed love, family, and narrative songs, mainly concerning specific events, places, and personalities of Vranje. She is the author of the song ‘Dimitrijo, sine Mitre’, one of the hallmarks of Vranje vocal tradition, which traces its roots in tradition found in written sources from the late 19th century onwards and still practiced today....
(b Athens, Greece, Dec 11, 1922; d Athens, April 7, 2005). Greek singer and composer. He began his career as a laïko composer and bouzouki soloist and sang only occasionally. He made his first great hit as a singer in 1956, with a song by Manos Hadjidakis, but he became widely known in the early 1960s when Mikis Theodorakis chose him as the main interpreter of some of his most important works. His career peaked between 1960 and 1974. He became the most important male voice of the entechno laïko song, performing a great number of songs of all the composers of this genre. He also recorded new influential versions of classic rebetika and many laïko and elafrolaïko hits (often his own compositions). His timid acceptance of the Junta regime blemished his image and, due also to the deterioration of his voice, his career declined and he made only a few recordings after ...
Bertil H. van Boer
(b Stockholm, Aug 10, 1757; d Vaxhälla, March 17, 1810). Swedish actor, singer and librettist . He made his début as an actor as Count Almaviva in Beaumarchais’ play Le barbier de Séville in 1785 at the New Swedish Theatre, where he became well known for his comic roles and original opera librettos, mostly written for Carl Stenborg’s comic opera. In 1790 he became an administrator at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, a position he held until after Gustavus III’s assassination in 1792. In 1794 he turned to publishing in the provincial town of Linköping. During his career he supplied the texts for more than 65 one-act comedies with music, including the Singspiels Födelsedagen (‘The Birthday’, 1790), Fricorpsen eller Dalkarlarne (‘The Free Corps or Men from Dalacarlia’, 1788) and Marknaden (‘The Market Place’, 1792), all with music by Kraus. His tenor voice was considered expressive but fairly weak; his main talent as an actor lay in his satirical portrayals of figures such as Abbé Vogler in the first of the operas named above....
[John Symon Asher ]
(b Bishopbriggs, Scotland, May 14, 1943; d Suffolk, October 25, 2014). Scottish bass player, singer, and composer. Having studied for three months at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow he moved to London, where he played with Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated (late 1962 – early 1963) and then formed a group with Graham Bond, John McLaughlin, and the drummer Ginger Baker; this became known as the Graham Bond Organisation after McLaughlin left and Dick Heckstall-Smith joined. Bruce arrived in London as a jazz purist and had at first played double bass, but after using an electric bass guitar for a recording session with Ernest Ranglin in 1964 he transferred to that instrument and studied the mobile, melodic style of the Motown house bass player James Jamerson. The following year Bruce left Bond’s band because Baker felt that his bass playing was too busy and joined John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers. He is best known as the bass guitarist, singer, and principal composer with the highly successful blues and rock group Cream (...
Carlo Vitali and Juliane Riepe
(b Rome, c1668; d Rome, Feb 19, 1755). Italian soprano castrato and composer. He was already a member of the Congregazione dei Musici di Roma in 1683, and in 1684 was in the cappella of St Mark’s, Venice; in the 1683–4 season he appeared at the Teatro di S Bartolomeo, Naples. He studied with Colonna (and possibly Pistocchi) in Bologna and in 1688 joined the Accademia Filarmonica and the cappella of S Petronio. Between 1683 and 1692 he was among the singers of S Maria Maggiore, Rome. In 1696 he took part in Perti’s Penelope la casta and Furio Camillo in Rome. During the following two years Cavalletti sang in Florence and Pratolino, and between 1698 and 1703 he was virtuoso di camera to the Duchess of Laurenzano. During this period he was granted leave to sing in Naples; at the Teatro di S Bartolomeo he performed in Scarlatti’s ...
revised by Simon Adams
(b London, Nov 25, 1934). English arranger, composer, and soprano and tenor saxophonist . He studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music, London (1953–6), and first appeared with his own band at Ronnie Scott’s in 1967. From the late 1960s he wrote compositions and arrangements for many musicians and groups, among them Humphrey Lyttelton, Chris Barber, Bing Crosby, and the orchestras of radio stations in Germany, Denmark (the Radioens Big Band), and England. In 1971 he formed a big band to play the music of Duke Ellington; its most celebrated reconstruction was recorded on the album Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown & Beige (1972, Argo 159). The band broke up in 1973, and from 1978 into the mid-1980s Cohen and Keith Nichols led the Midnite Follies Orchestra, which toured, broadcast, and made recordings (including Hotter than Hades, 1978, EMI 1001). In 1985 Cohen wrote arrangements for the 31-piece band led by the drummer Charlie Watts, and the following year he formed his own quintet, in which he plays soprano saxophone. He wrote arrangements for a big band which accompanied Cab Calloway on BBC television in ...
(b Rome; fl 1629–57). Italian singer and poetess, sister of Anna Francesca Costa. Her rather chequered career as a talented courtesan led her from Rome through Florence (1629), Rome (1644), Turin (1645) and Paris (1647) before returning again to her native city; her patrons included the Medici (in particular, Grand Duke Ferdinando II), the Barberini and Cardinal Mazarin. Her rivalry with another Roman soprano, Cecca del Padule, was reputed to have inspired Domenico Mazzocchi’s La catena d’Adone (1626), although she did not take part in the performance. Costa’s numerous publications include poetry, letters, a comedy (Li buffoni, Florence, 1641), a libretto for a Festa reale per balletto a cavallo (Paris, 1647, with a dedication to Mazarin: it had been offered to Grand Duke Ferdinando II in 1640), and two opera librettos, La Flora feconda (Florence, ...
[Laka D; Koc, Dorota Mary]
(b Oxford, England, Jan 8, 1953). English singer, pianist, composer, and music director. From a background in rock and soul bands, notably Soulyard, from 1982 to 1988 she was a member of the Guest Stars, in which she played piano and sang; she also wrote much of the group’s material. In 1982 she co-founded the Lydia D’Ustebyn Swing Orchestra, was an organizer of Early Evening Jazz, the first women’s jazz festival held in London (at the Drill Hall), and sang in the a cappella group the Hipscats (comprising five singers, including Jan Ponsford, Jim Dvorak, and Ruthie Smith, and later the pianist Alastair Gavin). An intermittent affiliation with Carol Grimes involved work in her band and in a duo. She sang and played piano with Annie Whitehead, with whom she recorded the album Mix Up (1985, Paladin 6), then led her own band, which included Claude Deppa. In the 1990s she played with Mervyn Afrika, Kate Westbrook, the percussionist Josefina Cupido, and the saxophonists Louise Elliot and Diane McLaughlin, composed and directed music for stage shows, and taught. Laka Daisical is a propulsive pianist and exciting performer heavily influenced by African-American gospel music, as exemplified by ...
(b Naples, Aug 17, 1960). Italian singer and composer. She studied lyrical and contemporary singing and in 1976 began her career in groups performing ethnic music. From 1980 she worked in jazz; later she sang with Kenny Wheeler (1990–95), Eliot Zigmund (1991–3), Rita Marcotulli (from 1994), John Taylor (from 1996), and Ralph Towner (from 1997). From 1994 to 1997 De Vito led the Nauplìa projects, mixing Neapolitan and Mediterranean music with jazz, and in 1996 she began working with the British composer Colin Towns. In 1998 she formed Phoné, a group with Gianluigi Trovesi and Taylor, and another trio with Taylor and Towner; she also played in Triboh with Marcotulli and Arto Tuncboyaçiyan and collaborated with the video-maker and sculptress Marisa Albanese.
De Vito’s roots are in Neapolitan melodies and Mediterranean singing (from Macedonia to North Africa and Sicily). She searches for a fusion between these elements and jazz and, with her evocative and powerful voice, mixes the music from different cultural areas in a kind of moving world music....
Brenda M. Romero
(b Tlaxiaco, Mexico, Sept 9, 1967). Mexican singer, composer, and anthropologist. She was already well known in Mexico when she emerged in the US mainstream with her performance in the film Frida (2002). Her father was Scottish American and her mother is Mixtec from Oaxaca, thus Downs grew up traveling back and forth between the United States and Mexico and between cultures. She began singing at the age of five and began formal classical voice studies at 14 at Bellas Artes in Oaxaca. She subsequently studied in Los Angeles and at the University of Minnesota, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology, focusing on Oaxacan highland textiles. In addition to crediting African American music in general, and female singers and the music of jazz in particular, for showing her the many ways in which the voice can be used as an instrument to articulate a wide palette of expressiveness, she credits a range of musical influences, including the Grateful Dead, Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Meredith Monk (especially her extended vocal techniques), Thelonious Monk, and John Coltrane. She has conducted most of her work in collaboration with her husband ...
(b Hohensalza [now Inowrocław, Poland], Aug 18, 1879; d Los Angeles, CA, Nov 7, 1945). American singer, songwriter, and impresario. His family immigrated to the United States in the 1880s. By the age of 14 Edwards was working as a singer in Tony Pastor’s Music Hall in New York, and he subsequently appeared as a vaudeville performer with four other boys in an act called the Newsboy Quintet. In 1899 he began to write songs with the lyricist Will D. Cobb, beginning a partnership that lasted for several years. Their first hit was “I can’t tell why I love you, but I do” (1900), and they went on to establish their reputation with such songs as “Goodbye little girl, goodbye” (1904) and “School Days” (1907), a melodious waltz ballad with lyrics yearning for the simple days of small-town rural America. This last-named song was written for a revue in which Edwards appeared with a number of young actors; its success was such that he continued to present his “kiddie discovery shows” with new performers and material for the next 20 years. Among the juvenile actors he promoted were Eddie Cantor, George Jessel, Walter Winchell, and Ray Bolger. Many of Edwards’s best songs, including “Sunbonnet Sue” (...
revised by Cecilia Sun
(Peter George St John Le Baptiste de la Salle )
(b Woodbridge, UK, May 15, 1948). English composer, singer, keyboard player, sound artist, and producer. He attended art school in Ipswich and Winchester, during which time he was inspired by John Cage’s Silence to develop an interest in experimental music. He later joined the Scratch Orchestra and the Portsmouth Sinfonia. He first worked professionally from 1970 to 1973 with the seminal art-rock band Roxy Music, playing keyboard on their first two albums Roxy Music (Island, 1972) and For your Pleasure (Island, 1973). By treating the group’s live sound electronically with a tape recorder and VC5 3 synthesizer, he defined a role for himself as an “aural collagist.” After leaving Roxy Music, Eno developed this interest in the timbral quality of music further with the albums No Pussy Footing (Island, 1973; with Robert Fripp) and Another Green World (Island, 1975), the latter a brilliant combination of quirky songs and pastoral instrumentals. In ...
(b Tours, 1770; d Versailles, Dec 6, 1845). French composer and singer . Fay first appeared as a tenor at the Théâtre Louvois in 1791; he joined the company of the Opéra-Comique in 1792 and that of the Théâtre Feydeau in 1797. After 1801 he sang mainly in provincial theatres, but also in the Netherlands and Belgium, where he concluded his career in 1826. His wife, Mlle Rousselois (known as Bachelier), was a singer at the Théâtre Feydeau, and the couple managed the three théâtres in Marseilles, 1811–13. Although this venture ended in financial disaster, Fay published a Plan d’une organisation générale de tous les théâtres de l’Empire (1813), which contains information on theatrical practice at the time of Napoleon. His comédieClémentine is an ambitious work with substantial numbers, and it is meticulously written. Reviews of Fay’s other operas, although sometimes favourable, criticized his heavy orchestration and lack of melody....
(b Lyons, 1750; d Paris, May 1836). French composer and singer . He went to Paris, according to Fétis, in 1779 and taught music; from about 1781 to 1785 he published songs and keyboard arrangements. On 1 November 1788, a scène by Foignet was given at the Concert Spirituel. In 1791, when it became a common right in France to open a theatre, he began to compose stage works, initially in collaboration with Louis Victor Simon. These were primarily opéras comiques or vaudevilles and enjoyed much success; most are lost.
From 1798 to 1809 Foignet was (with Simon) one of five joint administrators of the Théâtre Montansier, and in 1801 took over the Théâtre des Jeunes-Artistes, rue de Bondy, where he ran a highly regarded troupe with his son François Foignet, who was chief conductor. Almost nothing is known of Foignet after 1807, when most small theatres were closed by Napoleon....
(b Athens, Greece, Nov 26, 1926; d Athens, Dec 3, 1988). Greek singer, composer, and lyricist. He grew up in a working class district and was forced to work from an early age. He became a professional musician in the early 1950s and had his first hits in 1956. His career took off from 1959 and he became one of the most popular laïko singers of the next decade. Always accompanied, after 1960, by the singer Ria Kourti, Gavalas made many hit records, performed in high-end nightclubs, and appeared in numerous films. He reacted to the changing tastes and commercial policies of the late 1960s by creating, and recording for, his own record company (1966–72), and he continued to perform and to make hits until the mid-1980s. His greatest hits include laïko songs of all different styles, many of which he wrote himself. Gavalas, who was called a ‘popular aristocrat’, had his own faithful audience and represented a distinct sensitivity within ...
[‘Lo Zanardino’ ]
(b Bologna, July 31, 1661; d Bologna, Dec 15, 1729). Italian soprano castrato and composer , son of Vincenzo and Angela Laurenti. A pupil of Agostino Filippucci, he became a member of the Bologna Accademia Filarmonica in 1685. From 1675 to 1688 he spent much of his time as a soprano at S Petronio; evidence from librettos shows that between 1679 and 1687 he also sang in operas by Perti, Tosi and others in Parma and Bologna. In 1688 he entered the Congregazione dell’Oratorio in Bologna, where he became praefectus musices, and maestro di cappella. According to Penna, ‘because of his noble talent he was worthy to serve the Emperor Leopold I as a virtuoso for many years’; in fact he was only in Vienna from May to July 1686. Penna states also that ‘in the most celebrated cities in Europe he distinguished himself, both in church and theatre as equal to any musician that lived in that time’....
(b Shkodra, Albania, June 7, 1963). Albanian popular music singer, composer, and showman. A multifaceted musician and entrepreneur, he is among the most influential members of Albania’s new post-socialist class of entertainers. He was a child singer in the northern Albanian city of Shkodra during the late 1970s before relocating to Tirana for further musical training. As a composition student in the late 1980s, he became one of the first musicians to receive permission to study abroad, in Italy, after Albania’s diplomatic break with the Soviet Union in 1961. As a singer-songwriter (kantautor) in the early 1990s, he composed a number of popular compositions about Albania’s transition from socialism, including ‘Jon’ (The Ionian Sea, 1991). Deemed foreign and politically suspect under socialism, the singer-songwriter served an important political function during Albania’s transition. For many listeners, Gjebrea expressed important truths about democracy and the country’s future. As a radio and television host, Gjebrea subsequently helped to modernize each format in the late 1990s and 2000s. His annual song competition, Magic Song (...
(b London, April 7, 1944). English singer, composer, and percussionist. She started singing on the streets of London in the 1960s, then formed the Race, singing blues with English, Jamaican, and Nigerian musicians. She performed with Lol Coxhill, Roy Babbington, and others in the group Delivery, led by the pianist Steve Miller (1970–72), then went to the USA (1974), where she recorded albums in Nashville and Memphis with leading soul session musicians. After returning to England she continued to sing blues, soul, and jazz with her own bands. She became associated with free improvisers in groups such as Maggie Nicols’s Contradictions and worked in the 1970s with a new wave of women jazz players, including Laka Daisical, the Guest Stars, and Annie Whitehead. While leading the ensembles Carol and the Crocodiles and Eyes Wide Open, she worked with the saxophonist Angèle Veltmeijer, Steve Lodder, the guitarist Maciek Hrybowicz, the double bass player Mario Castronari, and others, and wrote jazz-oriented material. Grimes formed musical partnerships with the singer Ian Shaw and the pianist Janette Mason, worked with Alan Barnes and the guitarist Tony Rémy, and collaborated with Indian singers and the Sudanese electric bass guitarist Sami El Salahi. For theater she wrote and produced the autobiographical ...
(b London, Dec 9, 1847; d Folkestone, March 1, 1912). English actor, singer, composer and writer, father of George Grossmith. He was a courtroom reporter and comic recitalist, like his father of the same name, before becoming a drawing-room entertainer: he was sometimes called ‘G.G. II’, to distinguish him from his father, or ‘G.G.’. He began a 12-year association with the Gilbert and Sullivan Savoy operas when he made his stage début in the title role of The Sorcerer in 1877. Of slight stature, with excellent diction, dapper footwork and a light comic touch, he created what became known as the patter parts or the ‘Grossmith roles’. In 1889 he resumed his lucrative Humorous and Musical Recitals, touring in England and America.
According to contemporary accounts he was not much of a singer, but his own songs display a wider tessitura than the Gilbert and Sullivan repertory suggests. He was the author of and often a performer in eight operettas, nearly 100 musical sketches and some 400 songs and piano pieces. This prolific song output was mostly in a patter style, with an infectious melody and a syllabic setting for fast delivery: a third of them were published and survive, but his manuscripts along with his performing librettos from the Savoy operas were destroyed in World War II. His songs are couched in quotidian detail: London streets and their surly cab drivers and bus conductors, seedy lodging houses, obstreperous babies, and fashionable dances as in ...
[Rhodes (née Guy), Helen M.]
(b Château Hardelot, nr Boulogne, c1858; d London, Jan 7, 1936). French composer, pianist and singing teacher. She was the daughter of an English sea captain and the singer Helen Guy. At the age of 15 she was taken to Paris, where she studied at the Conservatoire under Renaud Maury, and success came in her early 20s with the song Sans toi (words by Victor Hugo). Gounod and Massenet were among those who encouraged her in composition, and those who introduced her songs included Nellie Melba, Victor Maurel and Pol Plançon, as well as Emma Calvé, with whom she went to the USA in 1896 as accompanist. After marrying an Englishman she settled in London, where she continued to produce sentimental songs, about 300 in all, notable for their easy melody and typical dramatic climax. They include Three Green Bonnets (H.L. Harris; 1901), Because (E. Teschemacher; ...