I’ve written more than once about crooners, not only trying to define the term but also questioning why it sometimes seems to be used in a negative way. (From Sinatra To Rod Stewart – The Crooner Conundrum.) To me, croonerhood has always been a sign of distinction for a singer, and with that in mind I’m nominating Mel Carter for inclusion into the ranks.
Sometimes described as a sort of up-tempo Johnny Mathis (who would certainly qualify as a iconic crooner), Carter was born in Cincinnati and grew up in the post-war years with a definite bent for music. By the time he reached adulthood he’d managed to latch on to a recording contract, one that initially took him down the same path followed by many other young R&B singers. He did pretty well and sold some records with “When A Boy Falls In Love,” but by the mid-Sixties he’d taken a turn for the softer sound of pop ballads, and it soon paid off in a big way — his recording of “Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” became a huge hit.
For several years, Carter continued to find success crooning songs like “My Heart Sings” (video below), “Love Is All We Need,” and “Band Of Gold.” The balance of the Sixties were his hottest years, and he not only sold a lot of records but also appeared on many TV musical and variety shows.
By the end of the decade the musical side of his career began to wind down a little, but Carter had another facet of his career to fall back on. From time to time he’d managed to find spot acting roles in various TV shows, and he would continue to do so for much of the next couple of decades.
But through the years Carter has managed to keep busy musically too, continuing to record when possible and making appearances on tour and in clubs. Like many of the stars of the past, he’s been helped along by nostalgia-driven Oldies revivals, but I’d like to think his croonerhood has something to do with it.