Crooning is a 20th century style of singing made possible by the invention of microphones and amplifiers, which allowed the crooner to sing in a much softer, quieter, more intimate style.
Its popularity peaked during the 1920’s to 1950’s with the advent of radio and electric recording allowing crooners to be heard by millions.
Who are the best known crooners of all time? Crooners were almost by definition entirely male.
Francis Albert Sinatra (December 12, 1915 – May 14, 1998) was an American singer, actor and producer who was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century. He is one of the best-selling music artists of all time, having sold more than 150 million records worldwide.
As the decades passed, crooning began to fall out of fashion and was written off by many as a fad.
It was ultimately dethroned by a new style of music in the 1950’s, rock and roll. Today, modern crooners are categorized as “adult contemporary” or “easy listening”.
Crooner is an American epithet given primarily to male singers of jazz standards, mostly from the Great American Songbook, backed by either a full orchestra, a big band or a piano.
Originally, it was an ironic term denoting a sentimental singing style made possible by the use of microphones. Some performers, such as Russ Columbo, did not accept the term.
Frank Sinatra once said that he did not consider himself or Bing Crosby “crooners”.
Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby Jr. (May 3, 1903 – October 14, 1977) was an American singer and actor.
Crosby’s trademark warm bass-baritone voice made him the best-selling recording artist of the 20th century, having sold over one billion records, tapes, compact discs and digital downloads around the world.
The first multimedia star, from 1931 to 1954 Crosby was a leader in record sales, radio ratings, and motion picture grosses. His early career coincided with technical recording innovations such as the microphone.
This allowed him to develop a laid-back, intimate singing style that influenced many of the popular male singers who followed him, including Perry Como,Frank Sinatra, Dick Haymes, and Dean Martin.
Yank magazine said that he was the person who had done the most for American soldiers’ morale during World War II. In 1948, American polls declared him the “most admired man alive”, ahead of Jackie Robinson and Pope Pius XII.
Also in 1948, Music Digest estimated that his recordings filled more than half of the 80,000 weekly hours allocated to recorded radio music.
Robert Gerard Goulet was an American singer and actor of French-Canadian ancestry. Goulet was born and raised in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Cast as Sir Lancelot and originating the role in the 1960 Broadway musical Camelot starring opposite established Broadway stars Richard Burton and Julie Andrews, he achieved instant recognition with his performance and interpretation of the song “If Ever I Would Leave You”, which became his signature song.
His debut in Camelot marked the beginning of an award-winning stage, screen, and recording career . His vocal performances have involved every medium of the entertainment world.
A Grammy, Tony, and an Emmy award winner, his career spanned almost six decades. It is for these achievements that Robert Goulet is considered to be one of the greatest baritones of all time and one of the most prominent musical stars of the second half of the 20th century.
Eydie Gormé (also spelled Gorme (August 16, 1928 – August 10, 2013) was an American singer who performed solo as well as with her husband, Steve Lawrence, in popular ballads and swing. She earned numerous awards, including a Grammy and an Emmy.
She retired in 2009 and she died in 2013. Gormé was born Edith Gorme (her obituary read Edith Gormezano,and census sources indicate Edith Garmezano) on August 16, 1928, in Manhattan, the daughter of Nessim and Fortuna, Sephardic Jewish immigrants.
Her father, a tailor, was from Sicily and her mother was from Turkey. Gormé was a cousin of singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka. She graduated from William Howard Taft High School in 1946 with Stanley Kubrick in her class.
She worked for the United Nations as an interpreter, using her fluency in the Ladino and Spanish languages, while singing in Ken Greenglass’s band during the weekends.
Teresa Brewer (May 7, 1931 – October 17, 2007) was an American singer whose style incorporated country, jazz, R&B, musicals, and novelty songs. She was one of the most prolific and popular female singers of the 1950s, recording nearly 600 songs.
Theresa Veronica Breuer was born in Toledo, Ohio, the eldest of five siblings. Her father was a glass inspector for the Libbey Owens Company (now part of Pilkington Glass), and her mother was a housewife.
When she was two years old, her mother entered her into an audition for a radio program, Uncle August’s Kiddie Show on Toledo’s WSPD. She performed for cookies and cupcakes donated by the sponsor. Although she never took singing lessons, she took tap dancing lessons.
From age five to twelve, she sang and danced on the Major Bowes Amateur Hour, then a popular touring radio show. Her aunt Mary traveled with Theresa until 1949, when Theresa wed William Monahan. At the age of 12, Brewer returned to Toledo and ceased touring in order to have a normal school life. She continued to perform on local radio.
In January 1948, the 16-year-old won a local competition, and (with three other winners) was sent to New York to appear on a talent show called Stairway to the Stars, featuring Eddie Dowling. It was at about that time that she changed the spelling of her name from Theresa Breuer to Teresa Brewer.
She won a number of talent shows and played night clubs in New York (including the Latin Quarter).