The Artistry of… Jimmy Scott

“As singers, we all deal in pain,” said Ray Charles. “We’re all trying to push the pain through the music and make it sound pretty. Jimmy Scott has more pain and prettiness in his voice than any singer anywhere.” According to Dexter Gordon: “He sang like no one else… Ahead of the beat. Behind the beat. In a haunting high-pitched voice that was neither male nor female but both at the same time.” It has been said that Nancy Wilson modeled her career on his style.

Kallmann syndrome is the name of the condition that affected Scott’s hormonal growth. He had a high alto voice that remained unchanged throughout his life. As a result he suffered from what many ignorantly and insensitively thought made him different.

These words of Scott’s sister Nadine sum up the spirit of the great Jimmy Scott: “His mood stayed sweet… Sweetness is such an essential element of my brother’s character that no obstacle or hardship ever changed him. His love of life and people remained constant.”

The Artistry of… airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.