12 Facts About Carmen McRae


Carmen Mercedes McRae was an American jazz singer.


Carmen McRae is considered one of the most influential jazz vocalists of the 20th century and is remembered for her behind-the-beat phrasing and ironic interpretation of lyrics.


Carmen McRae began studying piano when she was eight, and the music of jazz greats such as Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington filled her home.


Carmen McRae played piano steadily for almost four years at a number of clubs in Chicago before returning to New York in 1952.


Back in New York in the early 1950s, Carmen McRae got the record contract that launched her career.


Carmen McRae was voted best new female vocalist of 1954 by DownBeat magazine.


Carmen McRae recorded with some of the world's best jazz musicians in albums such as Take Five Live with Dave Brubeck, Two for the Road with George Shearing, and Heat Wave with Cal Tjader.


Carmen McRae was a popular performer at the Monterey Jazz Festival, performing with Duke Ellington's orchestra at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1980, singing "Don't Get Around Much Anymore", and at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1989.


Carmen McRae left New York for Southern California in the late 1960s, but appeared in New York regularly, usually at the Blue Note, where she performed two engagements a year through most of the 1980s.


Carmen McRae withdrew from public performance in May 1991 after an episode of respiratory failure only hours after she completed an engagement at the Blue Note jazz club in New York.


On November 10,1994, Carmen McRae died at her home in Beverly Hills, California, at the age of 74.


Carmen McRae had fallen into a semi-coma four days earlier, a month after being hospitalized for a stroke.