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Kitt Moran

Kitt Moran is hardly the first entertainer to include the classics Alfie and Watch What Happens in her repertoire. However, she's probably the only singer ever to have the song's composers - Burt Bacharach and Michel Legrand - accompany her on the piano while she performed the numbers. Most performers would regard moments like those as once-in-a-lifetime experiences. For Kitt Moran, though, it's become all-in-a-night's-work for the singer who was personally selected in 1992 by Merv Griffin, who at the time owned Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, to become the first and only chanteuse-in-residence at Atlantic City's flagship casino gourmet restaurant. "When you work for Merv Griffin, you learn very quickly that he can walk into the restaurant, unannounced, with a party of friends that reads like a Who's Who in Hollywood," Kitt says. To that end, Kitt has performed for, sung with and been accompanied by an impressive list of stars: Vic Damone, Rosemary Clooney, Jack Sheldon, Frankie Randall, Buddy Greco, Johnny Hartman and - naturally - Merv Griffin himself. Kitt's close encounter with Bacharach came in December 1994, when the composer, who was performing in Atlantic City with Dionne Warwick, was Griffin's dinner guest. Moran admits to being "slightly nervous" when she discovered her tableside singing would bring her face-to-face with her favorite composer. "I decided it would be fun to pay tribute to Burt by hauling out my secret weapon, which is a medley of Bacharach songs," she recalls. She sang the medley as she casually strolled past Griffin and Bacharach, then capped the number with eight bars from the ending of Alfie. Bacharach applauded enthusiastically then motioned for Kitt to come a little bit closer." If you can change your key," he said quietly, "I'd love to accompany you on Alfie."Before Kitt could even speak, Merv answered on her behalf. "Of course she can," he said. "She can sing in any key." Moran's longtime accompanist, Lisa Tee, relinquished the piano.

A hush fell over the plush French dining room as customers put down their forks and spoons Bacharach and Moran, who'd never worked together and who'd known one another for all of 10 minutes, performed Alfie as though Bacharach had written the song exclusively for her. "My God, but that was a beautiful moment between Burt and Kitt," Griffin would say later. "We've had some wonderful times in that room with Kitt and other stars, but this was probably the most magical night of all." If that moment was the most magical, then Moran's duet with legendary French composer Michel Legrand in 1996 was the most electric. Legrand was performing at Resorts in 1996, and on the eve of the Blizzard of the Decade, Legrand sat down at the piano and not only accompanied Kitt but also sang harmony as she sang Watch What Happens from the motion picture "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg." As an encore, Legrand and Moran performed one of his best-known songs, The Summer Knows, which was the title song from the movie "The Summer of '42." Realizing that she treated the songs tenderly and with the respect they deserved, Legrand rose from the piano, hugged the chanteuse and with Gaelic enthusiasm planted a kiss on her hand. The musical path that led Kitt Moran to her position in Atlantic City is as eclectic as it is well traveled. Before settling in Atlantic City in 1994, Moran sang in many of the most popular and exclusive clubs in New York City, including Michael's Pub, the Village Vanguard, The Blue Note, Gulliver's and Trumpets.She opened shows for the likes of Jay Leno, Rodney Dangerfield and Jackie Mason and performed with Buddy Greco, Jack Sheldon and Teo Macero's "Sax Off 5th Avenue." She also performed with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, who was so smitten with her voice that he gave her his song Bright Moments, which was originally intended for Sarah Vaughan. For Teo Macero, she recorded Impressions of Charlie Mingus and Teo's Vocalists and also sang the title song for a film titled "Walls and Bridges."

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