Jon Hendricks

John Carl Hendricks (September 16, 1920 – November 22, 2017, also known as Jon Hendricks) was an American jazz singer and lyricist. He is credited with inventing vocalese. This adds lyrics to instrumental songs and replaces vocalists with instruments (such as the big-band arrangements by Duke Ellington or Count Basie). He is also a master of scat, which is vocal jazz soloing. Leonard Feather, a jazz critic and historian, called him the “PoetLaureate of Jazz” for his work as a poet. Time, however, called him the James Joyce of Jive. Al Jarreau called him the “pound-for–pound best jazz singer on earth”–perhaps that’s ever happened. Hendricks was born in Newark, Ohio in 1921. Hendricks, along with his 14 siblings, moved several times after their father’s A.M.E. assignments before finally settling in Toledo. Hendricks started singing there at seven years old. He said, “By the age of 10, I was a Toledo celebrity.” When I was 12, I received offers to go to Fats Waller’s house and, when I was 13, I received offers to travel with Ted Lewis to be his shadow. He sang the song “Me and My Shadow”. He also had a little Negro boy, who was his shadow and did everything he did. This was his act. Jon was a teenager when he first became interested in drumming. But he soon found himself singing on the radio with Art Tatum, a Toledo native. Jon met Colleen Moore, his first wife, in Toledo. They were married and had four children: Jon Jr., Colleen and Eric. Hendricks served in the Army during World War II and returned home to study at University of Toledo with the G.I. Bill was a pre-law major. The G.I. interrupted Bill’s plans to enter the graduate program in law. The G.I. benefits ran out just as he was about to enter the graduate law program. Charlie Parker encouraged Hendricks to visit New York two years ago, when he was in Toledo. Hendricks settled in New York and began his singing career. Hendricks formed the famous vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks in 1957 with Annie Ross and Dave Lambert.

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