Artists Worth Checking Out: Nothing Blue About The Cool Sounds from Randy Crawford
Although there has never been a baseball, football, or basketball player with the name Randy Crawford–the smooth jazz answer to what rocker Tracy Chapman would be later in the decade of the 1980’s made it a style all her own.
Born as Veronica Crawford on February 18, 1952 in Macon, Georgia, she grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio. At age 15, Randy performed in nightclubs in both the United States and Europe (luckily, her father acted as her chaperon). Among the notable artists Crawford has worked with throughout the years are Cannonball Adderley, the late Ray Charles, George Benson, Quincy Jones, and Al Jarreau. Randy released her first single, “If You Say the Word” in 1972. Seven years later, she belted out some memorable lyrics on the jazz tune, “Street Life” while with the Crusaders group. That song was featured on a few movie soundtracks and at its’ peak, it hit #5 on the United Kingdom pop charts and #17 on the US R&B charts. She was also named the Most Outstanding Performer at the 1980 Tokyo International Music Festival.
The album I chose to focus on this week managed to get plenty of airplay across the pond with the first two tracks, “You Might Need Somebody,” and an especially inspired rendition of “Rainy Night in Georgia.” With the title track cleverly positioned on Track 7, this album was released in March 1981. The online site IMDB mentioned that the album, “stayed on the Billboard album charts for sixty weeks.”
However, it is track number six that deserves the most kudos. “Rio De Janeiro Blue” was originally penned in 1977 by John Haeny and Richard Torrance, but it is the lyrics that are uniquely Brazil in every aspect:
Second verse, “Brazilian serenaders linger on…and I get a feeling that I’ve seen the last of you.”
Final verse, “Months go by I wonder why / I’m left here on my own…Lonely sleepless nights are getting old.”
I am certain no fans will get lonely either during the FIFA World Cup or most of the United States with the long Memorial Day holiday weekend upon us.
As for what Randy has been up to since 1989, she has been doing plenty of cool things on the jazz scene:
In 1989 Randy recorded a hit cover with David Sanborn and Eric Clapton covering Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”. She helped team up with composer and pianist Joe Sample on the 2006 album “Feeling Good.” And yes, Randy continues to tour all over the world.
Not bad for what most music critics labelled her as simply, “The Queen of 1980’s Soul.”
Speaking of the upcoming holiday weekend in the United States, please take a bit of time to pause and reflect as we remember those servicemen and women who died in combat during all conflicts and gave us our freedoms that we all hold dear and cherish each and every day.
Next week, we will close the month with another cool artist still doing great things on the Brazilian jazz scene. Look for a cool review of Monica da Silva’s best work next week.