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Teri Thornton
Teri Thornton
May 2, 2000
Age 65 
 Bladder Cancer 
 
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Editor's Pick:  I'll Be Easy to Find
 
 
 
 

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Bergen Record of Hackensack NJ
 
       
             By JIM BECKERMAN 
             Staff Writer 

              
             Teri Thornton, once called by Cannonball 
             Adderley "the greatest voice since Ella 
             Fitzgerald" and seemingly poised for a 
             comeback, died in Englewood on Tuesday of 
             complications from bladder cancer. She was 65. 
              
             After falling into obscurity, where she remained 
             for years, the jazz singer-pianist made a 
             sensational return to the spotlight two years ago: 
             first by winning a $20,000 prize in the 
             prestigious Thelonious Monk International Jazz 
             Vocals Competition, then by scoring a contract 
             with the Verve label. 
              
             "I'll Be Easy to Find," her first album in 35 
             years, was widely praised by critics and rated a 
             spot in the Village Voice's "10 Best" jazz list for 
             1999. 
              
             Diagnosed with cancer in 1997, Ms. Thornton 
             had been living in the Actor's Fund Home in 
             Englewood while in remission. 
              
             "I am the cockeyed optimist," Ms. Thornton 
             told The Record last year. "I always think that 
             you're due for something, if you've hung 
             around long enough." 
              
             Despite her precarious health, her weeklong 
             January engagement at Manhattan's Village 
             Vanguard drew celebrities such as Clint 
             Eastwood, Wynton Marsalis, and "60 Minutes" 
             correspondent Ed Bradley. 
              
             "She was a great singer," fellow vocalist Abbey 
             Lincoln said Thursday. "She doesn't sound like 
             anybody else. You know it's her when you hear 
             her. I'm sorry that she's gone. It makes me feel 
             very lonely." 
              
             A Detroit native and child of a radio-singing 
             mother and Pullman porter father, Ms. 
             Thornton was a self-taught musician who was 
             performing professionally by age 22. 
              
             By 1961 she recorded her first album, "Devil 
             May Care," and in 1963 her rendition of 
             "Somewhere in the Night," the theme song of 
             the popular ABC-TV series "Naked City," 
             became a Billboard Top 10 hit. 
              
             But by the late 1960s, her career was 
             foundering. She moved to Los Angeles with her 
             three children and took odd jobs, including 
             driving a cab, to make ends meet. In 1983, she 
             moved back to New York and began to 
             reestablish her singing career. 
              
             "She was constantly rallying -- she made 
             comeback after comeback," said friend and 
             manager Suzi Reynolds. "I think the fortunate 
             thing is that she lived to see how much people 
             loved and admired and respected her 
             musicianship." 
              
             Ms. Thornton was married three times. 
             Survivors include two sons, Kenneth Thornton 
             of Detroit and Kelly Glusovich of New York; a 
               daughter, Rose McKinney-James of Las Vegas, 
               and six grandchildren. 
              
               A memorial service will be May 21 at 7:30 p.m. 
               at St. Peter Church, Lexington Avenue and 54th 
               Street, Manhattan. 
              
               Local arrangements are by Nesbitt Funeral 
               Home in Englewood. Services will be Tuesday 
               in Detroit.

    
  Teri Thornton, 65, jazz singer  

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. (AP) - Teri Thornton, a jazz singer who won critical acclaim in the 1960s and 
 late 1990s and suffered near-career oblivion in between, died Tuesday from complications of bladder cancer. She was 65.  
  
 Her career highlights included singing ``Somewhere in the Night,'' the theme for the television show ``Naked City,'' in 1962, and winning the Thelonius Monk International Jazz Competition, one of the most prestigious in jazz, in 1998.  
  
 Thornton, a Detroit native, started performing in the 1950s. She moved to New York in 1960, and 
 landed national television spots, club dates and record deals. But her career never had the sustained momentum she hoped for, and the dates began fizzling out.  
  
 A move to Los Angeles didn't help her career, and Thornton returned to New York in 1983, where she found steady work with small jazz bands.  
  
 It was in 1998, after Thornton had been diagnosed with cancer, that she had her comeback by winning the Monk competition, then releasing her first album in decades on Verve Records. 
 

     
    Vocalist Teri Thornton Dies 
     
        Jazz vocalist Teri Thornton, whose victory in the 1998 
        Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocalist competition 
        led to a career renaissance, including a recording contract 
        with Verve, died at New Jersey's Englewood Hospital  
        Tuesday night from complications from bladder cancer. 
        She was 65.  
       
                Born in Detroit on Sept. 1, 1934, Thornton's star was on the 
                rise in the early 1960s with the release of her debut album, 
                Devil May Care, and her recording of "Somewhere In The 
                Night," the theme song from the television series Naked City. 
                After releasing two more albums, including 1963's Open 
                Highway on Columbia, Thornton's career slowed down.  

                Thornton then spent years out of the limelight, raising her 
                children and channeling her creative energies into songwriting. 
                In the early 1980s, she returned to performing, singing 
                standards and accompanying herself on piano in New York 
                City rooms such as Zinno's and Cleopatra's Needle. In the late 
                1990s, Thornton was diagnosed with cancer.  

                After fighting the disease into remission, Thornton's manager, 
                Suzi Reynolds, entered her into the Monk Competition. 
                Thornton won the contest and was signed to Verve Records 
                soon after, releasing her first album in nearly 35 years, I'll Be 
                Easy To Find, in October 1999.  

                "All of us at The Verve Music Group will miss our dear friend 
                Teri Thornton," said Ron Goldstein, president of the Verve 
                Music Group. "We are grateful that we had the opportunity to 
                work with her and her manager, Suzi Reynolds, on the release 
                of her last studio album and tour. It was a privilege and an 
                honor to have been associated with someone who, in the 
                wake of a devastating and prolonged illness, lived her life with 
                so much courage, fortitude, and dignity." ~Downbeatjazz.com

 
NY TIMES
    Teri Thornton Is Dead at 65; Jazz Singer Had Hits in 1960's  
     

    By BEN RATLIFF 
      
    Teri Thornton, a jazz singer who had started to resurrect her career 
    after winning the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition in 1998 
    and being signed to a major record label for the first time in three 
    decades, died on Tuesday at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center in New 
    Jersey. She was 65 and lived at the Actors' Fund Home in Englewood. 
    The cause was cancer of the bladder, said her manager, Suzi Reynolds. 
    Ms. Thornton had a husky, keening voice with a muscly vibrato; she was a 
    vibrant performer with a caustic sense of humor, and she was 
    particularly gifted at coaxing harmonic complexity and emotion out of 
    the blues. 
      
    She was born in Detroit, where her parents, Robert Avery, a Pullman 
    porter, and Burniece Crews Avery, a choir director and singer who was 
    the host of a local radio show, encouraged her to study classical music. 

    Ms. Thornton, whose original name was Shirley Enid Avery, took up jazz 
    instead, learning to sing and play the piano. By the age of 19, she was 
    a divorced mother of two and had not yet begun to sing professionally. 
    But she found a spot at the Ebony Club in Cleveland and within a few 
    years was living in Chicago and appearing with the saxophonists Johnny 
    Griffin and Cannonball Adderley and finding work as the intermission 
    pianist for strippers at the Red Garter nightclub. 
      
    Her career took off in 1961, with the release of her album "Devil May 
    Care," in which she sang in the company of the pianist Wynton Kelly and 
    the Count Basie sidemen Clark Terry and Freddie Green. Her biggest hit, 
    "Somewhere in the Night," came a year later; it had been the theme of 
    the television series "Naked City," and she found herself singing it on 
    "The Ed Sullivan Show" and other variety programs. 
      
    Ms. Thornton was signed by Columbia Records, and her exposure increased. 
    She took part in a television program celebrating Duke Ellington's 40th 
    anniversary in music, and Ella Fitzgerald told Down Beat magazine that 
    Ms. Thornton was her favorite singer. 
      
    But at that point, her career started to slide. She attributed her 
    downfall not only to the rise of rock 'n' roll but also to bad 
    management and her addiction to drugs and alcohol. She moved to Los 
    Angeles in the late 1960's and throughout the next decade took what jobs 
    were available, including driving a taxi. 
      
    In 1979 she began her career again, playing and singing in piano bars. 
    After moving to New York in the early 1980's she became a regular at 
    small restaurant clubs like Zinno's and Cleopatra's Needle. 
      
    She was performing at the Bern Jazz Festival in Switzerland in 1998 when 
    she collapsed and underwent emergency surgery. Cancer was diagnosed and 
    she underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments, but she decided to 
    compete in the Thelonious Monk competition in Washington. The strength 
    of her performance was undeniable, Peter Watrous wrote in The New York 
    Times. She won the $20,000 prize "by singing well and digging into some 
    of the best aspects of black entertainment culture, the parts that make 
    audience members and performers join in the same experience." 
      
    Verve Records signed her, and she made an album called "I'll Be Easy to 
    Find." In January she filled a weeklong engagement at the Village 
    Vanguard in Manhattan. 
      
    Ms. Thornton is survived by two sons, Kenneth Thornton of Detroit and 
    Kelly Glusovich of New York; a daughter, Rose McKinney-James of Las 
    Vegas; and six grandchildren.

 
Note from  usernet: 

I heard Teri in Greenwich Village with her band a couple years ago and yes, she was the real deal. I had the pleasure of talking with her after the gig about her work in LA during the 60s where at one point she used to do some recording sessions with my father. I was thrilled to see her back on the scene and getting such positive attention as she deserved. I'm glad that happened before she left us. She was a wonderful lady, the little I got to know her. 
 
 -- 
 Ellery Eskelin/Michelle Van Natta 
 Ramichellery/Prime Source Productions 
 http://home.earthlink.net/~eskelin/ 
 always updated...

 
       
 

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    • It is possible to hear the following cd's/songs by choosing from the links listed below. 
    • You can also purchase discounted cd's, tapes, vynyl, and videos from the same secure site.
           
        --  Teri Thornton discography 
               
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