Rosemary Clooney moulded American popular song

The Artistry of… Rosemary Clooney

I think nothing provides more escape or sweetness of distraction like the expanse of the American popular songbook. Nothing teases the imagination more, sets emotions on high, or pulls more at heart strings than the lyrics and melodies, the harmonies, and the cherished places in time, like a good memorable pop song. So often it was equally about the deliverer of that song — the singer, the idols, the heartthrobs, those voices, the styles and fashion, the look, and the attitude. No matter what the era, American popular song has enticed and tantalized legions of fans and continues to do so to this day.

Some of the songs have made such an impact that they have become part of the the pop culture lexicon. Rosemary Clooney commanded and moulded American popular song, making performances “moments of lasting memory.”

Her life is storied, early beginnings shadowed by familial struggles and distancing, demanding far too early independence. It seemed at first to see change only with pure luck and a wonderful dose of brilliant artistry.

American popular song often masks harsh realities, serving as cavalier distraction not only for the listener but also for the artists — belying challenges on the flip sides of what looked like golden lives. I think the most successful, like Clooney, found a way to mask and balance and tease and play with imagination and what-ifs. They build the land of make-believe with their souls veiled by the twinkling and gushing and rushing of turns of phrasing and melody. In those precious moments that we get lost in, we are pleasantly none the wiser.



The Artistry of… is a weekly series that reflects on the passion and essence of an artist. It airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.


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