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Keely Smith

Keely Smith
Birth name Dorothy Jacqueline Keely
Born (1932-03-09) March 9, 1932 (age 85)
Norfolk, Virginia, U.S.
Genres Jazz, vocal jazz, pop
Occupation(s) Singer
Years active 1949–present
Labels Capitol, Dot
Associated acts Louis Prima

Keely Smith (born Dorothy Jacqueline Keely, March 9, 1932) is an American jazz singer who spent much of her career with Louis Prima.

Smith showed a natural aptitude for singing at a young age. At fourteen, she sang with a naval air station band led by Saxie Dowell. At fifteen, she got her first paying job with the Earl Bennett band.

She saw Louis Prima perform in New York City in 1949. When he came through Norfolk, Virginia, she auditioned. She became the calm balance to Prima's wild antics, as he made his way through a repertoire of jump blues, jazz, and Italian pop songs. They recorded together in 1949 and married in 1953.

Their songs included Johnny Mercer's and Harold Arlen's "That Ol' Black Magic", which was a Top 20 hit in the US in 1958. In 1959, Smith and Prima won the first Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Vocal Group for "That Ol' Black Magic". Her deadpan act was popular with fans. The duo followed up with the minor successes "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen", a revival of the 1937 Andrews Sisters hit. Smith and Prima's act was a mainstay of the Las Vegas lounge scene for much of the 1950s. Though her actual voice was not used, she was caricatured as "Squealy Smith" in Bob Clampett's 1960 Beany and Cecil episode "So What and the Seven Whatnots," a Snow White spoof in a Vegas setting.

Smith appeared with Prima in the 1959 film, Hey Boy! Hey Girl!, singing "Fever", and also appeared in and sang on the soundtrack of the previous year's Thunder Road. Her song in Thunder Road was "Whippoorwill". Her first big solo hit was "I Wish You Love" in 1957. In 1961, Smith divorced Prima. She then signed with Reprise Records, where her musical director was Nelson Riddle. In 1965, she had Top 20 hits in the United Kingdom with an album of Beatles compositions, and a single, "You're Breaking My Heart" which reached No. 14 in April.

  • 1957 I Wish You Love (Capitol)
  • 1958 Politely!
  • 1959 Because You're Mine
  • 1959 Hey Boy! Hey Girl! (Capitol)
  • 1959 Swingin' Pretty (Capitol)
  • 1960 Louis and Keely!
  • 1960 Swing, You Lovers
  • 1960 Together
  • 1960 Twist with Keely Smith
  • 1961 Dearly Beloved
  • 1962 Cherokeely Swings
  • 1963 A Keely Christmas
  • 1965 Keely Smith Sings the Beatles (Reprise)
  • 1969 Little Girl New
  • 1973 Little Girl Blue
  • 1980 Doin' the Twist
  • 1985 I'm in Love Again (Fantasy)
  • 1994 What Kind of Fool Am I?
  • 2000 Swing, Swing, Swing (Concord Jazz)
  • 2001 Keely Sings Sinatra (Concord Jazz)
  • 2002 Keely Swings Basie-Style With Strings (Concord Jazz)
  • 2005 Vegas '58 – Today (Concord)
  • 2012 Sweet and Lovely (Cherished)
  • 1950 Angelina
  • 1953 Breaking It Up!
  • 1957 The Call of the Wildest
  • 1957 The Wildest!
  • 1959 Hey Boy! Hey Girl!
  • 1959 Strictly Prima!
  • 1960 Louis and Keely!
  • 1960 Together
  • 1990 Buona Sera
  • 1994 Return of the Wildest


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