Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sue Raney's Birthday

Today is the birthday of the wonderful singer, Sue Raney. I met Sue for the first time about twenty years-or-so ago. I was a mere fan back then and did not know her personally. But when Michel Legrand, who I did know, asked me for suggestions for a singer to tour with him, w/o hesitation I suggested Sue. He was not familiar with her, but I guess my word carried some weight. The next thing I knew, an audition for Sue had been set up and, so the legend goes, she had only to sing a few bars for this inarguable genius to stop accompanying her long enough to inform that she'd got the gig. And for the next few months, theirs was a music partnership made in (I'm sure Legrand would describe it as) "zee heavens." And that is how I came to know Sue Raney.

A few months ago a friend gave me a DVD-R chock full to the outer edge of Raney video appearances circa 60s-80s. Wowie zowie, does the camera ever love her! Every bit as much as the recording studio mic. And today, she looks almost entirely untouched by time. More than her fair share of pipes . . .and good genes!

There were a number of fine singers coming up in the early sixties, with the name of Jennie Smith most immediately leaping to mind. But styles changed and careers faded, and perhaps only Sue can be said (aside from the inevitible Babs, who is sui generis and doesn't really count) to have truly survived rock and roll blowing almost everything and everybody else out of the water with the coming of the Beatles. Sue still maintains a steady touring career, especially with symphonic pops concerts in U.S. cities. And she toured Japan to great acclaim a few years back with the Clayton-Hamilton band. Plus she is in the process of recording not just one, but perhaps two new CDs.

A couple of years ago I attended a full-blown Raney concert in a theatrical setting in Thousand Oaks, CA. The place was packed to the rafters, and for Sue, time had stood still not just in the "looks" department, but in every other conceivable way. Enough to make you forget, if only for a couple of hours, that knowing observation---overheard on line a few years back at NYC's Planetarium Station p.o---of the Late, Great and (still) Incomparable Hildegarde: "Talent is a thing of the past." Certainly not where Sue Raney is concerned.

Happy birthday to you. . .Sweet Sue.

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