Chris Connor has won every conceivable critical and popular accolade in her half century reign as one of the most gifted and distinctive vocalists in jazz history.
Born in 1927 in Kansas City, Missouri, Connor studied clarinet, but her career direction was clear at an early age. “I always knew I wanted to be a singer,” she said, “I never wanted to be anything else.” After completing her schooling, she took a secretarial job while commuting on weekends to the University of Missouri to perform with a Stan Kenton-influenced college jazz band. An admirer of Kenton singers Anita O’Day and June Christy, Connor recalls, “I had my sights set on singing with Kenton.”
Frustrated by the lack of vocal musical opportunities in her hometown, Connor pulled up stakes and headed east in 1949