Webster's dictionary defines 'croon' as to make a "continued moaning sound, or to sing in a gentle murmuring manner." Bing Crosby, the most famous crooner of all time, was known as "The Groaner."
Before the invention of electric microphones, pop singers like Al Jolson and Sophie Tucker had to rely on sheer lung power to be heard all the way to the back row of the theater. In the mid-20s, two inventions changed everything—the electric microphone and radio. Songwriters began tailoring their songs to a new, softer crooning style of singing. Pop tunes became more personal, more nuanced and sophisticated. A singer could croon his or her way directly into the hearts of listeners in the privacy of their own homes. With the advent of talking pictures, quiet, intimate singing became a staple of the silver screen experience in darkened movie theaters.
Our radio show Wishing on the Moon: Riverwalk Crooners in Concert shows off the intimate side of many gifted vocalists who have appeared on Riverwalk Jazz with The Jim Cullum Jazz Band.
Performers on this broadcast
P-town resident Rebecca Kilgore is one of America's leading song stylists intent on preserving the vocal jazz of the 1930s and 40s, an era which she feels remains unsurpassed in the high quality of its songwriting and heartfelt lyrics.
London-based Nina Ferro is a bright young star who emerged on the Melbourne, Australia music scene in the last decade. On Riverwalk Jazz, Nina has interpreted the songs of George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart and Irving Berlin.
Stephanie Nakasian is recognized by the New Biographical Encyclopedia of Jazz as one of the important jazz singers in the world today. Ms. Nakasian teaches jazz voice and vocal jazz improvisation at The College of William and Mary and the University of Virginia, and she is the author of several books on jazz singing.
A native of New Orleans, Topsy Chapman gained wide recognition as one of the original cast members of the Off Broadway hit, One Mo' Time. She has interpreted the music of Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday on Riverwalk Jazz.
Banu Gibson currently leads her own New Orleans-based septet the Hot Jazz, performing jazz standards, symphony pops concerts and festival dates worldwide. Banu is one of only a few vocalists in her generation to keep exclusively to songs of the 1920s and 30s in her repertoire.
Before her tragic death, Susannah McCorkle was widely acclaimed as one of the top jazz/pop vocalists of our time, noted for her repertoire of over 3,000 songs and her fresh interpretations of classic pop songs.
Known for his swinging hit records with the Count Basie Orchestra, Joe Williams appeared on Riverwalk Jazz in 1992. Actor Robert Goulet said, "At the age of 80, Joe could sing better than most people at the age of 20." Here, Williams offers a stunning rendition of the love song, "Tenderly."
Photo credit for home page teaser image: Banu Gibson. Photo courtesy Riverwalk Jazz.
Based on Riverwalk Jazz script by Margaret Moos Pick ©2004