McRae, Carmen

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Biographical Note

Carmen Mercedes McRae was born in Harlem, on April 8, 1920. She studied piano as a child and her parents encouraged her towards classical music. As a teenager, McRae wrote songs and pursued the jazz scene in New York City leading to a friendship with jazz pianist Teddy Wilson and composer Irene Kitchings Wilson. Through their influence, one of McRae’s early songs, "Dream of Life," was recorded by Teddy Wilson’s longtime collaborator, vocalist Billie Holiday. Inspired by Holiday’s depth of emotion and delivery of a lyric, McRae began to develop her own style and voice.

By the late 1940s, McRae was well-known among the young modern jazz musicians who gathered at Minton’s, Harlem’s most famous inside after-hours jazz club. This lead to recordings with Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Mercer Ellington and others. The turning point in her career happened in 1954 when she made her first recording as a lead with Carmen McRae . She earned Down Beat magazine’s “Best New Female Jazz Vocalist of the Year.” McRae soon began recording with such major recording labels as Decca, MCA, Vocalion, and Verve. She recorded over sixty albums, toured the world, was heard on radio programs, and appeared on television and in films. McRae continued to perform until the age of seventy-one. Her final performance was at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York. McRae died in Los Angeles on November 10, 1994.

From the guide to the Carmen McRae Collection of Musical Arrangements and Other Materials, 1931-1993, (bulk 1950s-1970s), (Music Division Library of Congress)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. I concentrate on you [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Bolton, Robert, 1937-1988. Robert Bolton collection, 1955-1980 (bulk 1963-1969). University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. Underneath the apple tree [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. New-York state on mind [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. Thou swell [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Ambassador Auditorium Collection, 1974-1995 Archive of Recorded Sound, Stanford University Libraries
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. The end of a beautiful frienship / Carmen McRae, chant ; Dizzy Gillespie, trompette. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. Send in the clowns [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. How long has this been going on [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. If were a bell [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. I concentrate on you [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. Secret love [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. Black magic [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. Black magic [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. New-York state on mind [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. Superwoman [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn American Vaudeville Museum collection, 1845-2007, (bulk 1910-1940) University of Arizona Libraries, Special Collections
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. Thou swell [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. I just can't wait to see you [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. My foolish heart [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. Superwoman [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Duke Ellington recordings collection Eda Kuhn Loeb Music Library, Harvard College Library
creatorOf Carmen McRae Collection of Musical Arrangements and Other Materials, 1931-1993, (bulk 1950s-1970s) Music Division Library of Congress
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. I just can't wait to see you [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. Underneath the apple tree [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. Send in the clowns [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. The end of a beautiful frienship [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant ; Dizzy Gillespie, trompette. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf Henderson, Luther, 1919-2003. Dream of life / music, Luther Henderson ; words, Carmen McRae. Library of Congress
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. How long has this been going on [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. Secret love [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. My foolish heart [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Grover Sales Collection, 1940-2004 Archive of Recorded Sound
creatorOf McRae, Carmen, 1922-1994. If were a bell [Multimédia multisupport] / Carmen McRae, chant. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Museum of Vaudeville corporateBody
associatedWith Boland, Francy. person
associatedWith Bolton, Robert, 1937-1988. person
associatedWith Burns, Ralph. person
associatedWith Carter, Benny. person
associatedWith Clayton, John, 1952- person
associatedWith Cullen, Frank, 1936- person
associatedWith Di Novi, Gene. person
associatedWith Dodge, Joseph Jeffers person
associatedWith Henderson, Luther, 1919-2003. person
associatedWith Holman, Bill. person
associatedWith Jones, Jimmy, 1918-1982 person
associatedWith Jones, Thad. person
associatedWith Katz, Fred, 1919- person
associatedWith Keating, John, 1927- person
associatedWith Mardin, Arif. person
associatedWith Matz, Peter, 1928-2002 person
associatedWith McNeilly, Donald, 1945- person
associatedWith Nelson, Oliver, 1932-1975 person
associatedWith Pierce, Nat. person
associatedWith Rogers, Shorty, 1924-1994 person
associatedWith Sales, Grover, Mr. person
associatedWith Sebesky, Don. person
associatedWith Simmons, Norman, 1929- person
associatedWith Wilkins, Ernie. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Jazz--Lead sheets
Jazz
Jazz vocals
Popular music--United States
Music--Manuscripts--United States
Women jazz singers--United States
Jazz singers
Occupation
Singers
Function

Person

Birth 1922-04-08

Death 1994-11-10

Americans

Information

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SNAC ID: 43964946