I’ve written several times about so-called “one-hit wonders” and my disagreement with the label being applied too casually to performers. And although the description might technically be correct in some cases, it seems extra poignant when it’s attached to a musician who had a world of talent but was just never able to repeat their initial success.
Gogi Grant was just such an artist. Born Myrtle Audrey Arinsberg in Philadelphia, her family moved to California in the prewar years and as she grew into her teens she found that it was a good place to be if you were an aspiring singer. She began appearing in – and winning – talent contests, and by the post-war years she even began appearing on regional TV.
As the years began to pass her fledgling career stalled. She was finally able to secure a recording contract in 1952, but success still eluded her. By then she’d gone through a couple of name changes — first to Audrey Brown, then Audrey Grant, and eventually Gogi Grant. The latter was said to have been suggested by her boss at RCA Records, but her career still didn’t get much traction.
In 1955 she signed with a much smaller company, Era Records, and finally crept into top ten territory with “Suddenly There’s A Valley,” but it was the following year that her monster hit was born. “The Wayward Wind” hit the pop music world like — well, a hurricane. It was one of the biggest sellers of the year, reaching the top of the Billboard charts and earning Gogi the magazine’s Most Popular Female Vocalist award.
Unfortunately she never again reached those heights, but she did continue to have some success. Her dubbing for actress Ann Blyth in the film The Helen Morgan Story proved her talent, and the soundtrack did very well on the charts. She also continued to record solo albums and had a few that sold well, but nothing like she’d enjoyed before.
She pretty much retired from full-time singing in the late 1960’s and was fully engaged in raising a family, but through the years has continued to appear in selected venues. As late as last year she was in The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies. Now in her 80’s, she’s still active and vibrant — and can still sing. She even has her own website.
Considered by many experts to be one of the most talented but under-appreciated singers of the era, she’ll always be remembered for that one special song — you know, the one about the wind.