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Saturday, September 26, 1998 Published at 23:08 GMT 00:08 UK


Jazz singer dies

One of the most accomplished jazz singers, Betty Carter, has died at her home in Brooklyn aged 69.

She had been suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Betty Carter came to prominence with her duet with Ray Charles in 1960, on "Baby It's Cold Outside".

As Ms Carter once explained: "The more you do a song the more you learn about the tune and your concept of the tune.

"Then I'm free; then I just go any way I want to go and can go with it musically."

A reviewer wrote of a performance by Carter: "Ms Carter's method of bending notes downward in long sighing phrases characteristically enhanced the sense of the singer artfully reaching into the depths of her being to find a fullness of emotion tempered with wisdom."

Early career

Betty Carter was born Lillie Mae Jones in Flint, Michigan, on 16 May, 1929.

She studied at the Detroit Conservatory of Music.

When she was just 16-years-old, she was performing with some of the great names of bebop: Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and Max Roach.

She started singing professionally with Lionel Hampton's orchestra at the age of 18, and was to change her name to Betty.

She left Hampton in the early 1950s and moved to New York City, playing in small clubs.

In the late 1960s, she founded her own label, Bet-Car, which produced such classic recordings as the Grammy-nominated "The Audience with Betty Carter".

Ms Carter also was known as a nurturing but demanding teacher to successive jazz generations.

She helped coach pianists John Hicks and Mulgrew Miller, bassists Buster Williams and Dave Holland, and drummers Jack DeJohnette and Lewis Nash.

In 1988, one of the most famous jazz recording labels, Verve, offered her a contract, releasing the Grammy-winning "Look What I've Got" and reissuing her four earlier Bet-Car albums on CD.

She is survived by two sons, Myles and Kagle Redding.

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