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"I was born to sing," proclaims WILLIAM "BILL" RANDALL HENDERSON, a Chicago native who came into the world on March 19, 1926, and that he has! Henderson is a virtuoso performer whose heart is a vault filled with a wide range of musical expressions waiting for the song of release. He has already put his personal stamp on many wonderful works by the great composers and lyricists of popular music. Those who have heard him on record or in concert can attest to his genius.
Henderson has spent many years cultivating and honing two distinctly separate yet complementary careers, in music and film. His stage credits include film and television projects such as City Slickers, Maverick, Lethal Weapon 4, ER, Cold Case, Hill Street Blues, and The Twilight Zone. As much as he loves the camera, Henderson is most at home with his musical profession. In 1959, his recording of Horace Silver's "Senor Blues" announced his arrival as a jazz vocalist, and since then he has worked with such great jazz masters as Oscar Peterson, Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis, and many others. He has rightfully been compared to, and appreciated by, renowned singers such as Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and Johnny Hartman, and he has several recordings to his credit.
In the last seven years, Henderson has come full-circle, returning - with great commitment - to the work he loves so dearly. His latest recording, released earlier this year, Bill Henderson: Live at the Kennedy Center, is receiving significant airplay on radio stations across America. He also recorded on Charlie Haden's exquisite 1999 CD, The Art of the Song, where he shared singing honors with another incomparable vocalist, the late Shirley Horn. Touring with Haden took him throughout the U.S. and to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Additionally, he has performed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the past two years, and at the Hotel Algonquin's famed Oak Room, and in the Rose Room at the Lincoln Center Jazz Program's new home, both in New York City. There have also been the unusual and surprising occasions such as being feted by the Philadelphia Swing Dance Society who danced to choreography based upon Henderson's recordings.
At this juncture in his life, Henderson has cited the works of Billy Strayhorn as inspirational and in fact three of Strayhorn's compositions - "Daydream", "My Little Brown Book", and "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing" - are represented on the new CD Bill Henderson: Live at the Kennedy Center. He believes a full-blown songbook recording would be a worthwhile and exciting endeavor. Henderson has done this before with the music of Johnny Mercer. He has the tools to interpret and render the compositions with signature phrasing, tonal color and pathos, much as a master painter renders a seascape, a flower, or a portrait of a beautiful woman. Henderson is such a master; the words, harmonies, and rhythms are his media. With him every note, every word, every phrase is a brush stroke. And every performance is a transporting masterpiece.