Rosemary Clooney

Singer. May 23, 1928 in Maysville Kentucky. Rosemary Clooney’s distinctively unpretentious voice, rich and deep and her smooth vocal tone earned her the title of America’s top jazz and pop singers. Clooney’s press biography for the record company, Life magazine, a tribute to America’s “girl-singers”, listed her as one of six “preeminent singers… whose performances were living displays of a valuable national treasure… their recordings are a preservation of jewels.” Frank Sinatra, a first-class crooner, stated that Rosemary Clooney “has that great talent which exudes warmth und feeling in every song. She is a symbol for good, modern American music. The star, known for her decades-long mastery over American pop song, was born in poverty in small-town Maysville. Her childhood was difficult. Clooney, her younger siblings, Betty and Nick, were split up between their alcoholic father Andy and their mother Frances, who traveled frequently for her work with a chain dress shops. They also had to be shuttled among Clooney’s relatives, who would then take turns raising them. Clooney’s mother, who was 13 years old, married a sailor. She moved to California with Nick and left the girls behind. While her father worked hard at a defense facility, Clooney tried to take care of Rosemary, Betty and the girls. However, he went missing one night to celebrate World War II. He also took the household money with him. In her autobiography This for Remembrance Clooney describes how she and Betty were left to their own devices. With the money they received from their refunds, they bought school meals and collected soda bottles. Rosemary and Betty won open singing auditions at a Cincinnati radio station. The phone was disconnected and utilities were about to go off. They were so good that they were hired to perform a regular late-night slot at $20 per week. The Clooney Sisters, as they were known, started their singing career on WLW in Cincinnati in 1945. They were discovered by Tony Pastor, a bandleader who was passing through Ohio. Pastor invited the Clooney Sisters to join his orchestra. They toured for a few years with Pastor until Betty returned to Cincinnati. Rosemary set out on her own, and she headed to New York City at 21. Clooney’s arrival to New York coincided perfectly with the popularity of orchestra-backed singers. She was signed immediately to a Columbia Records recording contract. The “girl singers”, at that time, were becoming recording stars. Clooney formed an important relationship with Mitch Miller at Columbia, one of the company’s A.

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