June Christy (born Shirley Luster; November 20, 1925 – June 21, 1990) was an American singer, known for her work in the cool jazz genre and for her silky smooth vocals. Her success as a singer began with The Stan Kenton Orchestra. She pursued a solo career from 1954 and is best known for her debut album Something Cool. After her death, she was hailed as "one of the finest and most neglected singers of her time."
Christy at the Club Troubador, New York, c. 1947
|Birth name||Shirley Luster|
|Also known as||Sharon Leslie|
|Born||November 20, 1925|
Springfield, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||June 21, 1990 64) (aged|
Sherman Oaks, California, U.S.
|Genres||Pop, jazz, cool jazz|
Shirley Luster was born in Springfield, Illinois, United States. She moved with her parents Steve and Marie (née Crain) Luster to Decatur, Illinois, when she was three years old. She began to sing with the Decatur-based Bill Oetzel Orchestra at thirteen. While attending Decatur High School she appeared with Oetzel and his society band, the Ben Bradley Band, and Bill Madden's Band. After high school she moved to Chicago, changed her name to Sharon Leslie, and sang with a group led by Boyd Raeburn. Later she joined Benny Strong's band. In 1944, Strong's band moved to New York City at the same time Christy was quarantined in Chicago with scarlet fever.
Work with Stan Kenton's Orchestra
In 1945, after hearing that Anita O'Day had left Stan Kenton's Orchestra, she auditioned and was chosen for the role as a vocalist. During this time, she changed her name once again, becoming June Christy.
Her voice produced hits such as "Shoo Fly Pie and Apple Pan Dowdy", the million-selling "Tampico" in 1945, and "How High the Moon". "Tampico" was Kenton's biggest-selling record. When the Kenton Band temporarily disbanded in 1948, she sang in nightclubs for a short time, and reunited with the band two years later. Christy appeared as guest vocalist on Kenton's albums Artistry in Rhythm (1946), Encores (1947), Innovations in Modern Music (1950) and Stan Kenton Presents (1950), Stan Kenton Classics (Capitol, 1944-47 ) and The Kenton Era (Capitol, 1940–54, ).
Beginning on September 28, 1959, Christy began a five-week road tour of 38 performances called "Road Show". The all-star billing: Stan Kenton and his orchestra, June Christy, The Four Freshmen. Capitol recorded highlights on October 10 at Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana, for a two-disc LP, reissued in 1988 on CD.
From 1947, she started to work on her own records, primarily with arranger and bandleader Pete Rugolo. In 1954, she released a 10" LP entitled Something Cool, recorded with Rugolo and his orchestra, a gathering of notable Los Angeles jazz musicians that included her husband, multi-instrumentalist Bob Cooper and alto saxophonist Bud Shank. Something Cool was re-released as a 12" LP in 1955 with additional selections, and then entirely rerecorded in stereo in 1960 with a somewhat different personnel. Christy would later say that the album was "the only thing I've recorded that I'm not unhappy with." Something Cool was also important in launching the vocal cool movement of the 1950s, and it hit the Top 20 Charts, as did her third album, The Misty Miss Christy.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Christy appeared on a number of television programs, including the short-lived CBS show Adventures in Jazz (1949), Eddie Condon's Floor Show (1949), The Jackie Gleason Show (1953), The Tonight Show (1955), The Nat King Cole Show (1957), Stars of Jazz (1958), The Steve Allen Show (1959), The Lively Ones (1963), and The Joey Bishop Show (1967). She also appeared on the first sponsored jazz concert on television, The Timex All-Star Jazz Show I (December 30, 1957), which also featured Louis Armstrong, Carmen McRae, Duke Ellington and Gene Krupa.
Christy embarked on dozens of concert tours, playing in Europe, South Africa, Australia and Japan. She toured to such an extent that eventually it began taking a toll on her marriage. She began to pull back from touring in the early 1960s.
R.M. Cook and Brian Morton, writers of The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings, appreciated the singer's body of work: "Christy's wholesome but particularly sensuous voice is less an improviser's vehicle than an instrument for long, controlled lines and the shading of a fine vibrato. Her greatest moments—the heartbreaking 'Something Cool' itself, 'Midnight Sun,' 'I Should Care'—are as close to creating definitive interpretations as any singer can come."
Later years and death
Christy semi-retired from the music business in 1969, in part due to her battle with alcoholism.
In 1972, she sang at the Newport Jazz Festival in New York City, where she was reunited with the Kenton Orchestra. She also performed at a handful of jazz festivals during the late 1970s and 1980s, playing with a band of all-star West Coast jazz musicians led by Shorty Rogers, as well as taking part in a number of world tours.
Christy returned to the recording studio in 1977 to record her final solo LP, Impromptu. She recorded an interview in 1987 for a Paul Cacia produced album called "The Alumni Tribute to Stan Kenton" on the Happy Hour label. A number of other Kenton alumni (Shorty Rogers, Lee Konitz, Jack Sheldon, among them) interspersed their tunes with reminiscences of the man and the years on the road.
Christy toured one final time in 1988, again with Shorty Rogers. Her final performance was sharing the stage with Chet Baker.
|Released||Album||Label & Number|
|1947||Artistry in Rhythm - Stan Kenton & His Orchestra (10" 78RPM Album set with 4 shellac discs)||Capitol Records BD-39|
|1950||Day Dream (10" 78RPM Album set with 4 shellac discs)||Capitol Records CC-126|
|1953||Get Happy (7" EP)||Capitol Records EAP 1-148|
|1953||The Swinging Chicks (shared album with Fran Warren; 5 songs each) (12" LP)||Camay Records CA-3042|
|1954||Something Cool (10" LP)||Capitol Records H-516|
|1955||Duet (with Stan Kenton) (12" LP)||Capitol Records T-656|
|1955||Something Cool (12" LP)||Capitol Records T-516|
|1956||The Misty Miss Christy||Capitol Records T-725|
|1957||Fair and Warmer!||Capitol Records T-833|
|1957||Gone for the Day||Capitol Records T-902|
|1958||This Is June Christy!||Capitol Records T-1006|
|1958||June's Got Rhythm||Capitol Records S/T1076|
|1958||The Song Is June!||Capitol Records S/T1114|
|1959||Recalls Those Kenton Days||Capitol Records S/T1202|
|1959||Ballads for Night People||Capitol Records S/T1308|
|1959||Road Show (with Stan Kenton and The Four Freshmen) (2-LP set)||Capitol Records S/TBO1327|
|1960||The Cool School||Capitol Records S/T1398|
|1960||Something Cool (stereo version)||Capitol Records SM-516|
|1960||Off-Beat||Capitol Records S/T1498|
|1961||Do-Re-Mi (with Bob Cooper)||Capitol Records S/T1586|
|1961||This Time of Year||Capitol Records S/T1605|
|1962||Big Band Specials||Capitol Records S/T1845|
|1962||Best of June Christy||Capitol Records T1693|
|1963||The Intimate Miss Christy||Capitol Records S/T1953|
|1965||Something Broadway, Something Latin||Capitol Records S/T2410|
|1977||Impromptu (with the Lou Levy Sextet)||Interplay Records IP 7710|
|1986||A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening (transcriptions: 6 from Stand By For Music radio show, 1956; 8 from The Navy Swings radio show, 1966)||Jasmine Records JASM 2528|
|1986||The Uncollected June Christy with The Kentones (from Capitol Transcription sessions, 1946–1947)||Hindsight SR 219|
|1987||The Uncollected June Christy, Vol. II (transcriptions: 12 from U.S. Marine Corps radio show, 1956; 2 from The Bob Crosby Show radio show, 1956)||Hindsight SR 235|
|1995||Day Dreams (compilation, 1947–1955)||Capitol Records|
|1995||Through the Years (1946/1957/1965)||Hindsight HCD 260|
|1995||Spotlight On...June Christy||Capitol Records|
|1997||The Best of June Christy: The Jazz Sessions||Capitol Records|
|1998||A Friendly Session (with the Johnny Guarnieri Quintet)||Jasmine Records|
|1999||Live at the Newport Jazz Festival, July 1972 (with Stan Kenton & His Orchestra)||Jazz Band EBCD 2145-2|
|2000||The Ballad Collection||Capitol Records|
|2002||Cool Christy (compilation, 1945–1951) 2-CD set||Proper Records Ltd|
|2012||101 Essential June Christy: Something Cool||AP Music Ltd|
|1949||Adventures in Jazz||Unknown|
|1949||Art Ford Show||Unknown|
|1949||Eddie Condon's Floor Show||Unknown|
|1950||The Alan Young Show||Unknown|
|1950||Jack Carter Show||Unknown|
|3/7/1953||The Jackie Gleason Show||Unknown|
|1955||The Tonight Show with Steve Allen||Unknown|
|9/3/1956||Stars of Jazz||Unknown|
|7/9/1957||Nat King Cole Show||I Want to Be Happy; How High the Moon|
|12/30/1957||Timex All Star Jazz||I Want to be Happy|
|3/3/1958||Stars of Jazz||Get Happy; That’s All|
|6/2/1958||Stars of Jazz||I Want to Be Happy; That’s All|
|10/1/1959||Playboy's Penthouse||How High the Moon; I Want to Be Happy; Something Cool|
|11/23/1959||The Steve Allen Plymouth Show||Midnight Sun; Medley with Steve and Mel|
|9/10/1962||The Steve Allen Playhouse||Midnight Sun; Willow Weep for Me|
|2/11/1963||One O'Clock Show||Unknown|
|8/8/1963||The Lively Ones||I’ll Take Romance; Midnight Sun|
|2/24/1965||The Mike Douglas Show||Unknown|
|6/2/1965||Not Only But Also||You Came a Long Way From St. Louis; Just in Time; Remind Me; My Shining Hour|
|8/12/1965||Mike Douglas Show||Unknown|
|11/8/1967||The Joey Bishop Show||Unknown|
|2/20/1968||Woody Woodbury Show||A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening; My Shining Hour; Midnight Sun (with Stan Kenton)|
|6/30/1972||The Dick Cavett Show||A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening; Remind Me; My Shining Hour|
|1972||Words & Music by Bobby Troup (with Stan Kenton)||The Meaning of the Blues; Hey Daddy; Lonely Girl|
- Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 260. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
- Cook, Richard (1998-12-11). "Carrying a torch". New Statesman. Retrieved 2015-05-24.
- Sparke, Michael. Stan Kenton: This Is an Orchestra!
- "June Christy". Belten.freeserve.co.uk. Archived from the original on 2013-07-18. Retrieved 2013-08-09.
- Holden, Stephen (June 24, 1990). "June Christy, Singer, 64, Is Dead; Gained Fame With Kenton's Band". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
- June Christy on IMDb
- Terrace, Vincent. Encyclopedia of Television: Series, Pilots and Specials, 1937-1973, p. 438.
- McClellan, Lawrence. The Later Swing Era, 1942 to 1955, pp. 92–93.
- "California Birth Index, 1905-1995". FamilySearch. Retrieved 2015-05-23.
- "Solid! - June Christy". Parabrisas.com. Archived from the original on 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2013-08-09.
- A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers. Books.google.com. 2010. ISBN 9780375421495. Retrieved 25 December 2014.
- "Obituary: Bob Cooper". The Independent. Retrieved 25 December 2014.
- "Los Angeles Times: Archives - Let's Hear It for High C-manship". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 1988-03-26. Retrieved 2013-08-09.
- "June Christy Discography at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2013-08-09.
- "June Christy". Find a Grave. Retrieved 25 December 2014.
- Scott Yanow. "Fair and Warmer! - June Christy | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-08-09.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to June Christy.|