She showed a natural aptitude for singing at a very young age. At age fourteen, Smith started singing with a naval air station band led by Saxie Dowell. At fifteen, she got her first paying job with the Earl Bennett band. Smith made her professional debut with Prima in 1949 (the couple were married in 1953); Smith played the "straight guy" in the duo to Prima's wild antics and they recorded many duets together. These include Johnny Mercer's and Harold Arlen's "That Ol' Black Magic", which was a Top 20 hit in the US in 1958.
In 1959, Smith and Prima were awarded the Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Vocal Group or Chorus for "That Ol' Black Magic." Her "dead-pan" act, similar to Virginia O'Brien, was a solid hit with fans. The duo followed up with the minor successes "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen", a revival of the 1937 Andrews Sisters hit. Smith and Prima's act was a mainstay of the Las Vegas lounge scene for much of the 1950s. Smith appeared with Prima in the 1959 movie Hey Boy! Hey Girl!, singing "Fever", and also appeared in and sang on the soundtrack of the previous year's Thunder Road. Her song in Thunder Road was "Whippoorwill," remembered as one of her very best. Her first big solo hit was "I Wish You Love". Keely Smith and Louis Prima in the 1950s Keely Smith and Louis Prima in the 1950s In 1961, Smith divorced Prima because of his dalliances and physical abuse.
She then signed to Reprise Records, where her musical director was Nelson Riddle. In 1965, she had Top 20 hits in the UK with an album of Beatles compositions and a version of "You're Breaking My Heart". After marrying producer Jimmy Bowen, Smith retired from music to concentrate on raising her children. In 1985, she made a well-received comeback with "I'm In Love Again" (Verve). Her albums "Swing, Swing, Swing" (2002),"Keely sings Sinatra" (2001-for which she was Grammy nominated), and "Keely Swings Basie Style with Strings" (2002) have garnered much critical and fan acclaim. Most recently, Smith released "Vegas '58 -- Today," a compilation of her best-known songs, all recorded live.
Smith has re-recorded a number of songs from her Prima years, including a modified version of "Oh Marie," which has been renamed "Oh Louis" in tribute. Now in her 70s, Smith works a light touring schedule, but continues to wow fans with her strong voice and natural stage presence. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
show me more