Vogue, vogue, vogue! Della Reese gives good face. And did you know? She's the daughter of a Native American mother and an African-American father. As a child, she was active in her church choir - and just as religiously, accompanied her mother to the movies on a weekly basis.
She was enthralled by stars like Bette Davis, Lena Horne and Joan Crawford (because of course she was). All that early schooling, so to speak, must have helped. By age thirteen, she was already on the road with legendary gospel queen Mahalia Jackson.
Speaking of movies, if you're having friends over for the Oscars, there's no better pre-Oscar party LP than Della's 1961 "Special Delivery," a Delightfully Della Cheerful Exclusive!
To say that it has "sock" and "pow" is a bit of an understatement. From the first track, "Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home," it's like her voice is being shot out of a canon. Sadly, most people only know her from "Touched By An Angel," and while I'm happy it's given her an annuity - don't even think of messing with her pocketbook - let's not forget that she's a top-drawer jazz and blues singer, too (I mean, I know we know) (I'm talking about your friends) (obviously).
And now onto another killer jazz singer, the shockingly unheralded (at least in comparison to her peers) Sheila Jordan.
A close friend of Charlie Parker, Sheila was well-known in jazz circles in the 50's and 60's and recorded her first LP, "Portrait Of Sheila," in 1963. And, yes, it's a Cheerful Exclusive! 'specially for you. Upon first listen, it won't take you long to figure out why she was cherished by not just Parker, but a who's-who of jazz greats.
My favorite track on this LP is "Dat Dere," which she starts simply enough - then her voice takes flight in almost every direction, like blooming fireworks. You've heard how this-or-that jazz singer has a voice like a musical instrument, right? In "Dat Dere," and elsewhere on this LP, Shirley's voice is an entire orchestra.
They say anyone can dance, and maybe they're right (or maybe they're not). But no matter, you have to practice if you're going to get better. Just ask Baby:
I swear to you, after playing "Bossa Novaville" for barely a minute, my Cuban Luvuh was up on the floor in a shot, shaking his hips to the beat. I'm not kidding. Either Cubans can't resist Bossa Nova (which is certainly possible), or the lure of Bossa Nova is just too strong - for anyone. I'll go for the latter, and I bet'cha you will, too, when you listen to one of the best "Ultra Lounge" compilations ever put out. For reals. It's that good.
Some things fly under the radar - even for the Secret Song File, though she'll never admit it. At a chichi restaurant, when I told her I was still enjoying a CD by a certain R&B diva released in 2013, she said, "Oh, yes, that 'change-is-going-to-make-me-cum' girl. I know her." No, no, no, I told her, that was her 2005 CD, this one's from last year, and it's a tribute to Etta James. "Right, that one," she said unconvincingly. "OhmyGod, I love it. You ordering dessert? Let's split dessert."
She later asked if she could borrow the CD from me since she misplaced her copy. "Which I played," she added quickly. "Before. Many times. Last year." Yes, it's true; I'm afraid while the Secret Sing File will always look flawless, she's really a terrible liar.
"It's even better than I remember!" she said the next day.
Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies (in the comments) (if you're so moved).