ANNIE ROSS has been an abundant contributor to the art of jazz for over 50 years. Born in the UK, she has been a permanent resident of the USA for many years and a U.S. citizen since 2001. The following are some highlights of what has been a long and illustrious career in jazz:
She is one of the pioneers of vocalese and the composer of "Twisted," one of the most well known examples of that art, as well as "Farmers Market, Jackie" and many others. A founding member of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, considered the greatest jazz vocal ensemble of all time, her influence is present in all subsequent practitioners of vocalese. "Twisted" has been recorded by a host of vocalists, including some not normally associated with jazz, including Joni Mitchell and Bette Midler.
Ross toured in the 1950s with the extraordinary Lionel Hampton band that included Art Farmer, Clifford Brown, Gigi Gryce, and Quincy Jones. Ross has recorded with James Moody, Kenny Clarke, Milt Jackson, Harry Sweets Edison, the Count Basie band, Louis Armstrong, Gerry Mulligan, Art Farmer, Chet Baker, and many more. In this variety of settings, she became known as a great jazz singer, masterful at ballads and up tempos, with the ability to swing hard, improvise, and make every lyric meaningful and revealing.
As a child, Ross entered a talent show on the radio accompanied by the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, which resulted in a six-month contract with MGM. She went to Hollywood at age eight where she appeared in The Little Rascals singing a jazz version of "Loch Lomond." At age eleven she appeared as Judy Garland's sister in Presenting Lily Mars. At age 14 she composed the song "Let's Fly," which was subsequently recorded by Johnny Mercer and Jo Stafford.
In Paris in the late '40s, she met up with musicians involved in modern jazz, including James Moody, Kenny Clarke, Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, and Billy Strayhorn, and she displayed an unerring ear and savvy sense of harmony, which was much appreciated. At 19, she recorded "Le Vent Vert" with Moody. Back in the U.S. at age 21, she recorded for Savoy, along with Clarke, Milt Jackson, and Percy Heath. She worked on 52nd St. with Max Roach, Tommy Potter, and George Wallington and subbed for Billie Holiday at the Apollo Theater. The original recordings of "Twisted" and "Farmer's Market" were done in 1952 with Wallington on piano and Art Blakey on drums.
Annie Ross has continued to bring the essence of jazz to a broad spectrum of listeners internationally, by touring, through her recordings, conducting workshops, writing, and appearances in film, television, and radio.
Currently, Ross is living in New York and is still active as a jazz performer, having recently performed in New York, Scotland, and Spain as well as having recorded a new CD, Let Me Sing.