Artist picture of Betty Carter

Betty Carter

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I Can't Help It Betty Carter 02:45
This Is Always Betty Carter 03:11
Takes Two to Tango Ray Charles, Betty Carter 03:16
My Favourite Things Betty Carter 01:38
I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire Betty Carter 02:25
I Like To Hear It Sometimes Ray Charles, Ray Charles And Betty Carter, Betty Carter 02:48
Open The Door Betty Carter 03:13
Spring Can Really Hang You Up The Most Betty Carter 05:17
You're A Sweetheart Betty Carter 04:04
I Could Write a Book Betty Carter 02:37

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Renowned jazz singer Betty Carter was known for her improvisational style and was equally as unpredictable as she was imaginative. Her reputation and influence has lasted long since her passing in 1998; vocalist Carmen McRae is one of many whom have sung her praises, stating "there's really only one jazz singer - only one: Betty Carter".

Born in Flint, Michigan in 1930, she studied piano at the Detroit Conservatory of Music before singing in jazz clubs, theatres and bars from the age of 16. She was initially asked by Lionel Hampton to join his band in 1948, but was repeatedly kicked out due to her constant improvising. In 1951, she left for good and toured the country performing around the USA with jazz legends like Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker.

She toured and recorded with Ray Charles between 1960 and 1963 before effectively retiring from the music industry to get married and start a family. After her marriage didn't work out, she returned with ''Round Midnight' (her second album of this name) in 1969, showcasing a new, fully-developed style. Carter was unable to attract record labels due to what was seen as an uncommercial sound, so she set up her own label, Bet-Car. She toured extensively throughout the `70s, with a trio which helped many aspiring jazz musicians along the way, including the likes of Buster Williams and Cyrus Chestnut.

After delivering standout performances at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1977 and 1978, she recorded what many regard as her finest ever performance - The Audience With Betty Carter - in 1979. With commercial success having well and truly returned, Carter signed a major record deal with Polygram and re-released her Bet-Car releases, as well as new album 'Look What I Got' which won her her very first Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance.

Continuing to perform and record into the 1990s, Carter developed a Jazz Ahead programme which helped to develop new talent in jazz and offered young musicians to work alongside her at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Having performed for then-President Bill Clinton in 1993, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1996 before her passing of pancreatic cancer in September 1998.