A long time ago the first time I heard Round Midnight was when a radio host on the old KRE radio station played it every night as his opening themse song. As with all newer jazz listeners it took awhile to understand Thelonius Monk and Betty Carter’s interpretation. But eventually I got it.
Betty Carter was born in Detroit and started singing at the age of 16. She would sit in on gigs for the likes of Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Billy Eckstine when they played Detroit. In 1948 she joined Lionel Hampton’s band in NY. She sung with Miles Davis in the late 50s and Mile referred her to Ray Charles. It was with Ray Charles she got her first hit with “Baby It’s Cold Outside”. She struggled though the 60’s and in the late 60’s she founded her own label Bet-Car records. You can find some of her best work on these records. Betty continued to perform and record headlining her own group. One of the things she is noted for is her students. She hired musicians like Cyris Chesnut, Mulgrew Miller, Dave Holland and Benny Green. She was responsible for a whole generation of top musicians. Her legacy continues with the JFK Center for the Performing Arts Betty Carter Jazz Ahead residency, performances and componsition work.
On Thurs 12 May from 2pm – 6pm Chuy and Mel will be playing the music of Betty Carter.