Audrey Morris (born 12 November 1928), a self-described "saloon singer," sings love songs and caresses the blues with lyrical grace that leaves her many fans begging for more. She has been enchanting night club audiences for more than a half century, performing in such clubs as Mister Kelly's, the Embers, Yvette, as well as Maxim's.
Audrey Morris grew up on the South Side of Chicago, where her relationship with songs began. Studying classical piano as a child, she was drawn to the radio, which played all the latest tunes from the Hit Parade, and she sat in school writing lyrics in her notebook while pretending to do her lessons. Her favourites were Billie Holiday, Lee Wiley, Mildred Bailey, and Peggy Lee. In 1950, Morris began singing and playing at the Capitol Lounge on State Street, and in 1954 moved to the newly-opened Mister Kelly's. She quickly became a magnet for other performers, from the fine local singers to visiting jazz royalty.
"Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry" from above 1955 LP
Morris made her first album on the tiny "X" label, a division of RCA, in 1955—Bistro Ballads—and the next year, Bethlehem Records signed her to record The Voice of Audrey Morris with arranger Marty Paich. Warner Brothers offered her an exclusive contract to record movie theme songs and to perhaps appearonscreen. But rather than surrender her freedom, Audrey turned them down.
Instead she began a five-year stint as leader of the intermission trio at Chicago's London House, a jazz piano club. There she shared bills with virtually every great jazz pianist, notably George Shearing and Oscar Peterson, both of whom became lifelong friends and fans.
In the late sixties, Morris reduced her work schedule to a night or two a week in order to raise her newborn son. Not until 1981 did she accept another full-time booking, at Chicago's Palmer House. Over the past three decades, she has played top rooms in Chicago, including the Embers, Yvette's, Toulouse, Maxim's, the Big House and the Whitehall Hotel. She may currently be seen frequently at Cornelia's.
Morris has introduced several generations of audiences to the glories of the Great American Songbook. (info edited from Chicago Jazz magazine & AMG)
The legendary Audrey Morris performs Fats Waller's "Blue Turning Gray Over You" at the Paul Marinaro Trio's evening of tribute to Audrey on October 13, 2011 at Katerina's in Chicago. Audrey performs here with Joe Policastro on bass. (video by Friedman Films)