Ann Richards (October 1, 1935 - April 2, 1982) was an American jazz singer who was a better singer than she was often rated but her career fell short of its potential.
She was born Margaret Ann Borden on October 1, 1935 in San Diego, California. Richards, who began taking singing lessons at ten and was self-taught on the piano, appeared on the West Coast music scene in 1954. She had a short stint with Charlie Barnet's band, and was later brought to the attention of Stan Kenton by songwriter Eddie Beal. Richards was with Kenton's band for a few months in 1955, and the two were married.
The admiring Kenton helped her secure a contract with Capitol Records. She was paired with conductor Brian Farnon and arranger Warren Baker for her debut album, 1958's I'm Shooting High in which she recorded a great selection of lushly arranged standards. Richards' next Capitol album, "The Many Moods of Ann Richards" (1959), intentionally put the singer through stylistic paces ranging from cool jazz to the East Asian exotica of Tak Shindo. She and Kenton went on to make a number of good recordings including the sizzling Capitol album, "Two Much!" (1960). What's more, the busty, brunette singer became something of a jazz pinup - or, as jazz critic Leonard Feather called her, the "Elizabeth Taylor of the hip set".
Kenton and Richards had two children, Dana and Lance, but separated in 1961. Ann was dropped from her label. Perhaps seeking publicity, she posed for an ill-advised Playboy spread, and Ann Richards found herself effectively blackballed from major record labels, top nightclubs and television.
Here's "Something's Coming" from above album
Ann signed a contract with the Atco label and embarked on a new album - "Ann, Man!". Taken as a whole, this is by far her most consistent solo album. The record comprises a mixture of swinging, bluesy numbers and slow, intimate ballads. Richards also enrapts the listener by drawing out her vibrato.
To heighten the effect, Richards often ends a phrase with a quick-vibratoed, Marilyn Monroe-like trill, as if to make the listener even more "hot and bothered". Richards is a strong singer with a great vocal ability - clearly influenced by June Christy. Sometimes Richards seems to duplicate Ann-Margret's "tigress" singing style and choice of material, so enormously popular at the time.
After a few well-performed but under-promoted albums for small companies, Ann's downward spiral soon descended to alcoholism and depression. Her dreams of big-label stardom and success were gone and the prospect of failure, along with the specter of her divorce from Kenton, devastated the singer. Finally, on April 2, 1982 Ann Richards was found dead in her Hollywood apartment. She had taken her own life, dying at age 46 from a gunshot wound. (info Wikipedia & various sources.)