The Tale Of Jimmy Scott


2016053120160604 (R4)The story of Jimmy Scott, one of the 20th century's most overlooked vocalists.

Mary Anne Hobbs presents the story of jazz singer Jimmy Scott, one of the 20th century's most overlooked vocalists. Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1925, James Victor Scott's life was filled with loss, pain, struggle and setbacks from the start. It would all reflect in his music, yet he remained upbeat and positive until his death in 2014.

Mary Anne learns about the man who came to prominence as Little Jimmy Scott, sang with the Lionel Hampton Band in the late 1940s and released his biggest hit - Everybody's Somebody's Fool - but was un-credited on the record. It set up a long list of un-credited performances, bad contracts and difficult dealings with the label who signed him. So why was a singer with such talent left largely unknown outside of the industry?

As a teenager, Jimmy was diagnosed with Kallmann syndrome, a genetic condition which affects the production of hormones, meaning he wouldn't go through puberty and would be left with his trademark high pitched singing voice. But the syndrome led to questions around his androgynous appearance and gender defying vocals.

In 1963 it seemed as though Jimmy's luck would turn a corner when he collaborated with Ray Charles to make the critically acclaimed Falling In Love Is Wonderful - cited by many as one of the greatest jazz love albums of all time. However, the album was withdrawn due to contractual problems. Jimmy moved back to Cleveland and began finding work as a shipping clerk, hospital clerk, and busboy throughout the 1970s and 80s.

It would take until 1991 for Jimmy to resurface and experience the attention and respect that was missing in his early career.

Mary Anne Hobbs speaks to Jimmy's wife Jeanie Scott, biographer David Ritz and record producer Tommy LiPuma.

A Sparklab production for BBC Radio 4.