Open the Door: The Life and Music of Betty Carter

Open the Door: The Life and Music of Betty Carter

by William R. Bauer
     
 

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Betty Carter's lifelong influence on the music world is unparalleled. Her contributions to music as a jazz singer, composer, arranger, and teacher have fostered a generation of musicians and fans.

This book looks at Betty Carter's contribution to the music world and delves behind the scenes to show Carter's growth as a businesswoman who took charge of her career

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Overview


Betty Carter's lifelong influence on the music world is unparalleled. Her contributions to music as a jazz singer, composer, arranger, and teacher have fostered a generation of musicians and fans.

This book looks at Betty Carter's contribution to the music world and delves behind the scenes to show Carter's growth as a businesswoman who took charge of her career.

Drawing upon revealing interviews with Carter, the author shows how ever-changing shifts in the music industry affected the singer's life and influenced her music. Bauer shows through his analysis of her musical examples how Carter absorbed various musical influences, from Sarah Vaughan and Billie Holiday to Miles Davis, and made them her own. From her apprenticeship with Gladys Hampton, Carter grew to become a shrewd dealer who learned to do her own contracting, A&R, and marketing and distribution. By chronicling one of jazz's great singers and composers, the book sheds light on how early jazz musicians got their work to the public and how this process has changed during the past fifty years.

William R. Bauer is Assistant Professor of Music at Rutgers University-Newark, where he directs the Rutgers Newark Student Jazz Ensemble, MOSAIC, and teaches in the Jazz History and Research program. He has written several articles about jazz vocal performance and scat singing, as well as various aspects of music education. His compositions have been performed throughout the United States and in Europe and include works for the theater and dance.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Born Lillie Mae Jones in Detroit, Betty Carter (1929-1998) enjoyed early success performing with major stars like Lionel Hampton, Miles Davis and Ray Charles. During the British rock invasion of the 1960s, her career ground almost to a halt, and she made a comeback only in the late '70s. Carter's career was also influenced by her fierce and uncompromising perfectionism: she frequently fired band members and fought a continuing struggle to maintain control over her recordings. In this first full-length biography of the singer, Bauer, an assistant professor at Rutgers University, details the changes in jazz styles, performance venues and recording market throughout Carter's 50-year career. While Bauer skillfully interweaves his discussion of Carter's compositions and performances with her life story, readers interested in Carter's life will have to skim through the detailed musical analyses. It is doubtful that even many musicians will get much from Bauer's rather academic technical discussions, although the 15 transcriptions of Carter performances may pique the interest of aspiring singers. 16 photos, 20 illus. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Like James L. Dickerson's recent biography of Lil Hardin Armstrong, Just for a Thrill, this labor of love says a lot about the inner workings of the music business and features a strong, intelligent African American woman who educated herself to be her own manager. Bauer (music, Rutgers Univ., Newark) draws on his own and other people's interviews with Carter (1930-98), whose star rose relatively late. In 1948, she was still Lillie Mae Jones, and when Lionel Hampton brought his big band to Detroit, she caught his ear with her off-stage scatting. Thus began the professional career of the only postbop singer whose name can be mentioned in the same breath as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Sarah Vaughan. Bauer assuredly examines those singers' influence on Carter with musical examples and documents her unflinching artistic integrity. Rather than hire top players for her backing trio, she always hired promising kids, which may have limited her commercial appeal. Regardless, her following continues to grow through the ongoing success of the Jazz Ahead program that she established to nurture and showcase the talents of the next generation of jazz musicians. This is the only available book-length biography of Carter. Highly recommended for all jazz collections. Harold V. Cordry, Baldwin, KS Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780472067916
Publisher:
University of Michigan Press
Publication date:
03/07/2003
Series:
Jazz Perspectives Series
Pages:
440
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

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