Sheila Jordan – Defying The Odds

You would have to assume that by the time we reach our 80s most of us would no longer be pursuing our normal vocation (if we’re even still around), but it has always seemed to me that musical artists often defy the odds. Yet another example is jazz singer Sheila Jordan, who is still entertaining her fans at age 82.

Although she grew up in Pennsylvania, Sheila (Dawson) Jordan first began to appear professionally in her city of birth, Detroit, during the early 1940s. She played piano and sang in area clubs, and soon became a full-fledged member of the jazz scene. She was musically influenced by the legendary Charlie Parker and his friends, and eventually moved to New York, the center of the cutting edge jazz crowd. In fact, her connection went even deeper — she married drummer Duke Jordan, a frequent collaborator of Parker’s.

The 1950s were good for Sheila as she worked with her husband and jazz stars like Lennie Tristano, and many of her records from that period showcase her unusual and emotional vocal style, along with her amazing scat singing ability. By the 1960s things had slowed down a little, but by the following decade she was again finding some success. She would eventually work with respected musicians like Steve Kuhn, Arild Andersen, and Harvie Swartz.

At last report, Sheila Jordan is still entertaining fans — and still defying the odds.

Sheila Jordan – “Baltimore Oriole”


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