Rosemary Timothy Yuro, professionally known as Timi Yuro (August 4, 1940 – March 30, 2004), was an American singer and songwriter. Sometimes called "the little girl with the big voice," she is considered to be one of the first blue-eyed soul stylists of the rock era. According to one critic, "her deep, strident, almost masculine voice, staggered delivery and the occasional sob created a compelling musical presence." Yuro possessed a contralto vocal range.
Rosemary Yuro was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1940, into an Italian-American family whose original name may have been Aurro. By the time of her birth, however, the family used the spelling Yuro. Young Rosemary moved with her family to Los Angeles in 1952. There, she sang in her parents' Italian restaurant and, despite her family's opposition, in local nightclubs before catching the eye and ear of talent scout Sonny Knight. Signed to Liberty Records in 1959, she had a U.S. Billboard No. 4 single in 1961 with "Hurt", an R&B ballad that had been an early success for Roy Hamilton.
In 1962 Phil Spector produced Yuro's single, "What's a Matter Baby (Is It Hurting You?)", which went to No. 12 on the Billboard pop chart. On both "Hurt" and "What's a Matter Baby", Yuro showed an emotional but elegant vocal style that owed a debt to Washington and other black jazz singers. Many listeners in the early 1960s thought Yuro was black.Her single "The Love of a Boy" reached No. 44 in 1962. It was arranged and co-written by Burt Bacharach, but Yuro refused to record his suggested follow-up, "What the World Needs Now Is Love".
In the following year, Liberty released Make the World Go Away, an album of country and blues standards. The singer at her vocal peak, this recording includes the hit title song (later a bigger hit for Eddy Arnold, with whom the song is usually associated), a version of Willie Nelson's "Permanently Lonely", and two different blues takes of "I'm Movin' On". Yuro was also known for soulful reworkings of popular American standards, such as "Let Me Call You Sweetheart", "Smile", and "I Apologize". She toured Europe in 1963, and appeared on the British TV show Ready Steady Go!. However, in the U.S. her image became established as a cabaret performer rather than as a soul singer.
By 1964, Yuro had moved to Mercury Records, but her first record for the label, "You Can Have Him", arranged by Jack Nitzsche, only just scraped into the chart and was her last hit. Nevertheless, her album The Amazing Timi Yuro, produced by Quincy Jones, was an artistic success. Subsequent records were unsuccessful, although a B-side, "Can't Stop Running Away," was later popular on the UK's Northern Soul circuit. In the 1960s, Yuro made two TV appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and was a guest on American Bandstand, Where the Action Is, and The Lloyd Thaxton Show. In 1967, she appeared in a black-and-white film in the Philippines as a guest star alongside Filipino comedians Dolphy and Panchito in a comedy titled Buhay Marino (Life of a Sailor), a film released by Wag-Wag Productions, Inc. At that time, the singer was very popular in the Philippines. She re-signed for Liberty Records in 1968, and recorded in London.
By the late 1960s, Yuro had performed in venues from London to Las Vegas. However, her career lost its early momentum, and she quit the music business altogether after her marriage in 1969.
In 1980, she was diagnosed with throat cancer, but recovered to cut several LPs for the Dutch market. In 1981, Yuro attempted a comeback in the Netherlands, performing as a guest of honor on Dutch national television. She rerecorded a version of "Hurt" that reached No. 5 on the Dutch pop charts. She also signed to the Dutch record label Dureco to record a new album, All Alone Am I; it went to No. 1 on the Dutch album charts and was eventually certified as a gold record. With these successes, Yuro moved to the Netherlands and continued with a string of hit singles and albums. After her record sales began to decline there in the mid-1980s, Yuro returned to the United States. Her last recording was the vinyl album Today, which was released in 1982 by Ariola and produced by her old friend and collaborator Willie Nelson. In 1990, the disc was reissued as a CD, remastered and remixed by Yuro herself on her own label Timi and titled Timi Yuro Sings Willie Nelson.
In 1984 she was forced to undergo a tracheotomy operation effectively ending her singing career. She died March 30, 2004, at the age of 63.