Over its seven years of life the GMC has featured a lot of performers who have continued to entertain fans well into their golden years. Today’s spotlight falls on one of the most respected singers around. Now in her eighties, Helen Merrill can look back on a long and fulfilling career as one of the best of the great jazz singers.
A New York native, she began life as Jelena Ana Milcetic, the daughter of Croatian immigrants. Still just a young teenager when she began singing professionally in clubs during the latter years of World War II, she was able work her way into a regular job as a band singer by the late 1940s.
In the 1950s she really came into her own, working with guys like Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Clifford Brown, and hitting the recording studio with regularity. By the close of the decade she’d managed to become an international star too, touring in the far East and in Europe, eventually even moving to Italy for a few years.
In the later years of her career she has continued to be a popular attraction abroad, especially in Italy and Japan (where she also lived for a while), but she has mostly been based in the U.S. She has also generated numerous new records for her fans and continued to perform for them whenever possible.