Betty Carter

Betty Carter

Infobox musical artist 2
Name = Betty Carter

Image_size = 150px
Img_capt = Betty Carter, Lucerna Hall, Prague, 25 October 1986
Background = solo_singer
Birth_name = Lillie Mae Jones
Alias =
Born = birth date|1929|5|16|mf=y
Died = death date and age|1998|9|26|1929|5|16|mf=y
Origin = Flint, Michigan
Genre = Vocal jazz
Years_active = 1948–1998
Label = Bet-Car, Verve

Betty Carter (May 16, 1929 – September 26, 1998) was an American jazz singer who was renowned for her improvisational technique and idiosyncratic vocal style. Carmen McRae once claimed that "there's really only one jazz singer - only one: Betty Carter." [Bauer, William R. "Open the Door: The Life and Music of Betty Carter" (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 2002), xiv.]

Early life

Carter was born Lillie Mae Jones in Flint, Michigan and grew up in Detroit, where her father led a church choir. She studied piano at the Detroit Conservatory. She won a talent contest and became a regular on the local club circuit, singing and playing piano. When she was 16, she sang with Charlie Parker, and she later performed with Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis.


Carter honed her scat singing ability while on tour with Lionel Hampton in the late 1940s. Hampton's wife Gladys gave her the nickname "Betty Bebop," a nickname she detested. In the 1950s Carter made recordings with King Pleasure and the Ray Bryant Trio. Her first solo LP, "Out There with Betty Carter", was released on the Peacock label in 1958.

Carter's career was eclipsed somewhat during the 1960s and 1970s, though a series of duets with Ray Charles in 1961, including the R&B-chart-topping "Baby, It's Cold Outside," brought her a measure of popular recognition. In 1963 she toured in Japan with Sonny Rollins. She recorded for various labels during this period, including ABC-Paramount, Atco and United Artists, but was rarely satisfied with the resulting product.

In 1970, a record company A&R man tried to run off with a set of her master recordings; the incident led her to establish her own record label, Bet-Car. Some of her most famous recordings were originally issued on Bet-Car, including the double album "The Audience with Betty Carter" (1980). In 1980 she was the subject of a documentary film by Michelle Parkerson, "But Then, She's Betty Carter".

In the last decade of her life, Carter finally began to receive wider acclaim and recognition. In 1987 she signed with Verve Records, who reissued most of her Bet-Car albums on CD for the first time and made them available to wider audiences. In 1988 she won a Grammy for her album "Look What I Got!" and sang in a guest appearance on "The Cosby Show" (episode "How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?"). In 1994 she performed at the White House and was a headliner at Verve's 50th anniversary celebration in Carnegie Hall. In 1997 she was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton. Carter remained active in jazz until her death from pancreatic cancer.


Like Art Blakey, Carter became known for working with developing young players. Beginning in the 1970s, she recruited most of her sidemen from a younger generation of musicians. In 1993 she helped launch the Jazz Ahead program for young musicians at the Kennedy Center.

Carter was a composer and arranger as well as an interpreter of songs. Her composition "Open the Door" became her own signature song; she recorded it several times in different arrangements and often used it to conclude her live performances. Her 1964 recording of the song was featured in the soundtrack of the 1999 film "American Beauty". She was also known for her medleys of Tin Pan Alley standards, most famously her weaving together of "Body and Soul" and "Heart and Soul".

Carter is mentioned along with other jazz luminaries in Gang Starr's jazz rap "Jazz Thing." In 1999 she was inducted into the "Down Beat" Jazz Hall of FameFact|date=August 2008.

Album discography


*1955 "Meet Betty Carter and Ray Bryant"
*1956 "Social Call"


*1958 "Out There"


*1958-60 "I Can't Help It" (The "Out There" and "Modern Sound" dates on one compact disc.)


*1960 "The Modern Sound of Betty Carter"
*1961 "Ray Charles and Betty Carter"


*1962 "'Round Midnight"

United Artists/Capitol

*1964 "Inside Betty Carter"


*1969 "Finally, Betty Carter" (live)
*1969 "Round Midnight" (live)
*1976 "Now It's My Turn"


*1970 "At The Village Vanguard"
*1976 "The Betty Carter Album"
*1979 "The Audience with Betty Carter"
*1982 "Whatever Happened to Love?"
*1987 "The Carmen McRae-Betty Carter Duets" (With Carmen McRae)
*1988 "Look What I Got!" - Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Female
*1990 "Droppin' Things" - Nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Female
*1992 "It's Not About The Melody" - Nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Female
*1993 "Feed the Fire"
*1996 "I'm Yours, You're Mine"


*1976 "I Didn't Know What Time It Was"
*1985 "Jazzbuhne Berlin '85"

Compilation Albums

* 1990 "Compact Jazz" - Polygram - Bet-Car and Verve recordings from 1976 to 1987
* 1999 "Priceless Jazz" - Verve Records - ABC-Paramount and Peacock Recordings from 1958 and 1960
* 2003 "Betty Carter's Finest Hour" - Verve Records - Recordings from 1958 to 1992 [ [ allmusic ((( Betty Carter's Finest Hour > Overview ))) ] ]

On various artist compilations

* Performs "I'm Wishing" on "" (1988).


External links

* [ Official website]
* [ Brief profile of Carter from]
* [ Obituary]
* [ Profile of Carter from]
* [ Website about Carter]

NAME = Carter, Betty
SHORT DESCRIPTION = Jazz singer, songwriter
DATE OF BIRTH = May 16, 1929
PLACE OF BIRTH = Flint, Michigan, United States
DATE OF DEATH = September 26, 1998
PLACE OF DEATH = Los Angeles, California, United States

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Betty Carter — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda Betty Carter Lorraine Carter (Flint, 16 de mayo de 1930 Brooklyn, 26 de septiembre de 1998), cantante estadounidense de jazz. Se trata probablemente de la vocalista …   Wikipedia Español

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  • The Modern Sound of Betty Carter — Infobox Album | Name = The Modern Sound of Betty Carter Type = Album Artist = Betty Carter | Released = 1960 Recorded = August 18 30, 1960 Genre = Jazz Length = 57:27 Label = ABC Records Producer = Betty Carter Reviews = * Allmusic Rating|4|5… …   Wikipedia

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