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Spotlight on Jazz-Little Jimmy Scott

February 21, 2011

Born James Victor Scott, in Cleveland, Ohio, “Little” Jimmy Scott is an American jazz vocalist famous for his unusually high contralto voice which is due to Kallmann’s syndrome, a very rare genetic condition. The condition stunted his growth at four feet eleven inches until, at age 37, he grew another 8 inches to the height of five foot seven inches. The condition prevented him from reaching puberty, leaving him with a high, undeveloped voice, hence the nickname.

As a child he got his first singing experience by his mother’s side at the family piano, and later, in church choir. At thirteen, he was orphaned when his mother was killed by a drunk driver.

He first rose to national prominence as “Little Jimmy Scott” in the Lionel Hampton Band when he sang lead on the late 1940s hit “Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool”, recorded in December 1949, and which became a top ten R&B hit in 1950. Credit on the label, however, went to “Lionel Hampton and vocalists,” so the singer’s name did not appear on any of the songs. This omission of credit was not only a slight to his talent but a big blow to his career. A similar professional insult occurred several years later when his vocals on “Embraceable You” with Charlie Parker, on the album “One Night in Birdland”, was credited to female vocalist Chubby Newsome. He later played with Ray Charles who helped him create the jazz masterpiece “Falling in Love is Wonderful”. Scott released several albums in the 1990’s after a career “hiatus” of sorts. Today, he continues to perform internationally at music festivals and at his own concerts. He has heavily influenced everyone from Nancy Wilson to Frankie Valli. Here is Mister Scott with, Someone To Watch Over Me...

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Rashard permalink
    February 21, 2011 4:56 pm

    It’s very rare that you hear a man with a singing voice that can pass for a woman’s and still embody soulfull, masculine undertones within his vocal cadence. Thanks for introducing me to yet another musical gem :-).

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