As part of KUVO's observance of Women's History Month, we're presenting biographical sketches of notable women in the music industry. We also encourage you to explore Women and Girls Lead, a major public media initiative focused on women and girls' issues, connecting citizens in Colorado, across the country and around the world.
Singer Annie Ross was born into a family of vaudevillians: legend has it that she was born after a matinee. She traveled to New York with her family aboard an immigration ship in 1934, when she was just four years old. Shortly after arriving in New York, she won a children's radio contest run by Paul Whiteman. The prize was a token contract with MGM: Annie moved to Los Angeles with her aunt and the rest of the family moved back to Scotland. She was singing and acting all through elementary school and left school after the tenth grade. She returned to Europe and quickly established a singing career.
The most significant breakthrough in her short career occurred when she met Bob Weinstock, the owner of Prestige Records. She had been writing songs and he asked her to write lyrics to a jazz solo. She came back the next day with the vocalese classic, "Twisted". First recorded in 1952, the song was an underground hit and has certainly endured.
Ross recorded numerous albums in the 1950's, with the members of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Jerry Mulligan, Chet Baker and Zoot Sims. Between 1957 and 1962, Ross recorded seven albums with Hendricks, Lambert and Ross. The trio became famous throughout the world and toured internationally, Sadly, during this time, Annie Ross developed a heroin addiction. She left the group in 1962 in order to kick her habit.
Having recovered her sobriety, Ross opened a club in New York, Annie's Place. She continued to sing and act throughout the ensuing years. She was named an NEA Jazz Master in 2010 and is active to this day. In fact, if you are in New York tonight, March 18, 2014, you can catch Annie at the Metropolitan Room; the show stars at 9:30pm!
Here, 8-year old Annie Ross demonstrates the art of belting it out: