The club served as a venue for musical revues from Japan. In 1956, she began working as a standards singer in U.S. military clubs on Oahu such as The Cannon Club on Diamond Head. Pianist Paul Conrad usually served as her accompanist for her gigs.
Conrad also wrote many of her arrangements. By 1957 she was singing at Waikiki Beach nightclubs as the opening act for headliners such as popular singer Herb Jeffries and blues singer and guitarist Josh White. With the help of bandleader Martin Denny, Azama obtained a one-album deal with Liberty Records in either 1957 or 1958. She released the album, Exotic Dreams, in 1958.
On the album, which Paul Conrad arranged, she sang standards which included "Speak Low" and "Autumn Leaves". She also sang a few hapa-haole numbers and a Japanese folk song on the album. She made had her singing debut on the American mainland in January 1959 when she appeared at Ye Little Club in Beverly Hills, California. Pop singer Jimmie Rodgers attended one of her shows and persuaded Liberty Records executives to allow her to record another LP. The 1959 album, Cool Heat, consists entirely of American standards.
Ethel sings a mix of ballads such as "My Ship" (music by Kurt Weill and lyrics by Ira Gershwin) and "Like Someone in Love" (music by James Van Heusen and lyrics by Johnny Burke) and rhythmic tunes such as "Johnny One Note" (music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Lorenz Hart). Her feeling for jazz is particularly evident on songs such as "Daybreak" (music by Ferde Grofé and lyrics by Harold Adamson). Marty Paich wrote all the arrangements and conducted the orchestra that accompanied Azama on the album. The orchestra consisted of renowned jazz musicians, including alto saxophonist Art Pepper, pianist Russ Freeman, and drummer Mel Lewis.
The band is brassy and wailing on the up-tempo numbers and lush with strings on the ballads. Between 1959 and 1960, Azama sang in nightclubs in Los Angeles, New York City, and Chicago. She also appeared in Las Vegas casinos on bills with jazz and standards singer Mel Tormé and with the jazz vocal group The Four Freshmen. In May 1960, she appeared on a national network variety special titled, Music on Ice. Azama sang several songs on the hour-long special which also featured French figure skater Jacqueline Du Bief, Japanese dancer Takeuchi Keigo, and singer-host Johnny Desmond. She moved to Australia in the early 1960s and appeared regularly in nightclubs there and also on Australian television and radio.
She married her Australian piano accompanist John Todd in 1964. They performed together in several nightclubs in Hong Kong, including the Eagle's Nest at the Hong Kong Hilton Hotel Family During the late 1960s, Ethel and John Todd settled permanently in Honolulu where Ethel gave birth to their two children. She resumed singing in Waikiki Beach nightclubs as a soloist and occasionally paired with local standards singer Jimmy Borges. She had minor acting roles on several episodes of the television series Hawaii Five-O in the mid-1970s. Death She continued to sing on a regular basis in nightclubs and other public venues on Oahu until her sudden and untimely death from a cerebral aneurysm in 1984, aged 49.
Sources http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethel_Azama Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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