Blossom Dearie’s dreamy and delicate voice first captured my attention as a child, It might have been my mother who introduced me as she had a taste for jazz and with access as a child to the jazz section at the local library where you could also borrow music, I also from a young age developed this same desire to bury deep into the libraries jazz collection. Blossom Dearie first struck me with her actual birth name, which is just so beautiful and really captured the spirit of her voice, which I have to say is like no other. There is a very simple but sensual, honest and jazzy spring like sound to her voice, some may say it’s girly and shrill but it was way cleverer than that.
On all the album covers I saw as a child, Blossom was sporting a pair of 1950’s cats eye glasses and she was dressed in that 1950’s style which looked very prim and proper but also kinda chic in a school mistress way, My other obsession was watching old movies on a Sunday afternoon so I’d seen lot’s of evidence in this style of fashion from old Marilyn Monroe and Jayne Mansfield (except maybe they showed a bit more cleavage?) As a child I was obsessed with 1950’s America, A friend of my parents had given me a pile of 1950’s Life Magazines and I poured over every page. I’d wear converse sneakers, stove pipe my trousers and wear my hair in a quiff, like an extra out of Happy Days. I think my Dad thought I was slightly mad, I was almost mimicking his own childhood when it authentically happened the first time around.
Based in New York almost entirely her whole life with some time spent in Paris in the 1950’s, She was a regular at the New York supper clubs in the 1960’s and settling down in an apartment in Greenwich Village till she died in 2009 at age 84. She performed almost right up until her passing largely at the now closed Danny’s Skylight Room.
It is in this apartment I believe a shot was photographed for her Daffodil Records 1977 double album “Winchester in Apple Blossom Time” The 1970’s had changed her look quite radically and she almost looked younger with her flowing blond hair in those days then she did early in her career, maybe it’s because she had lost the signature glasses but she evoked the spirit if that time in her interior which has always fascinated me. In the 1970’s a more Bohemian look was the rage and Blossom had decorated the space with global nods, rattan baskets filled with ostrich eggs on a entirely glass coffee table, potted plants, galleries of Indian and tribal art, Raw blocks of wood as side tables. It’s decorated in an understated simple way but rich with character, not unlike her amazing voice itself.
Bruce Weber shot the classic shot of Blossom at the piano with an oversized poodle and it could have been one of her last shots. It’s actually quite difficult to find shots or a lot of information about Blossom, She was by nature extremely independent person who zealously guarded her privacy. New Yorks Times writer, Stephan Holden said it best “An interpretive minimalist with caviar taste in songs and musicians, she was a genre unto herself. Rarely raising her sly, kittenish voice, Ms. Dearie confided song lyrics in a playful style below whose surface layers of insinuation lurked”
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