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Soulful Northeast Ohio Jazz Singer Jimmy Scott Has Died

Friday, June 13, 2014 at 6:23 PM

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A noted Cleveland-born jazz singer has died. ideastream's David C. Barnett has this appreciation of Jimmy Scott.

A rare genetic condition prevented Jimmy Scott from going through puberty, which left him small of stature, but inadvertently blessed with a distinctive voice --- a voice that often seemed to be a vessel for a sadness that enthralled audiences across the country.

MUSIC: Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child

He crooned with a distinctive, slow cadence that some called “singing behind the beat”.  Cleveland music promoter Jim Wadsworth doesn’t see it that way.

JIM WADSWORTH: What may be perceived as being behind the beat was actually on the beat --- it was purposeful.  And it did have just an incredible emotional impact.

Though Scott had a decent singing career in the 1950s, he eventually became disillusioned by the business and came back to Cleveland where he found other ways to make a living --- from being a shipping clerk to an elevator operator.  But, the need to perform was still there.  Reflecting on his life in a 2002 interview, he said he said there were two ways of looking at adversity.

JIMMY SCOTT:  It can be a destructive thing.  But, actually, it forces you to make up your mind to be who you are.

A break in 1991 at the age of 65 got Jimmy Scott back in the recording studio, which launched a new career for the soulful singer, who would go on to collaborate with a wide variety of artists, ranging from filmmaker David Lynch to singer Lou Reed.  And he kept performing until shortly before his death, at the age of 88.

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