Congratulations to Will Friedwald (and his editor, Bob Gottlieb–read Larissa MacFarquhar’s excellent Fall 1994 Paris Review interview), whose A BIOGRAPHICAL GUIDE TO THE GREAT JAZZ AND POP SINGERS (Pantheon Books) has received The Timothy White Award for Outstanding Musical Biography, which is one of the 43rd Annual ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards for outstanding print, broadcast, and new media coverage of music. This is not Will’s first Deems Taylor Award, however: his SINATRA! The Song is You, the first full-length musical biography of Old Blue Eyes, won the 1996 award for Excellence in Music Criticism, and was hailed by The New York Times Book Review as the “single most important book on Sinatra ever published.” . The Awards were established in 1967 to honor the memory of composer / critic / commentator Deems Taylor, who died in 1966 after a distinguished career that included six years as President of ASCAP.
Additional Praise for the book:
Top Five Books of the Year 2010: Friedwald chronicles the Great American Songbook, its creators, and its interpreters—a body of work that stands at the apogee of this nation’s civilization. Quirky, opinionated, shaped by exquisite taste and judgment, this feat of musical and cultural criticism offers an exuberant glimpse into the American character.
—Benjamin Schwarz, The Atlantic
A perfect holiday gift . . . An authoritative, comprehensive and oft-amusing guidebook that leads readers through the lives and recordings of hundreds of singers, from Louis Armstrong to Hank Williams.
—The Wall Street Journal
Incisive and useful . . . In this mammoth volume, jazz critic Will Friedwald does for jazz and pop vocalists what David Thomson has done so brilliantly in his New Biographical Dictionary of Film. . . . The author also acts as a consumer guide, steering the reader toward particular songs or albums. . . . Vastly entertaining.
—Dennis Drabelle, The Washington Post
In this passionately opinionated encyclopedia of the old-school virtuosos of the American songbook, music writer Friedwald celebrates 200-odd performers of jazz and pop standards, from the mid-20th-century titans to latter-day acolytes, with a raft of unjustly obscure singers in between. . . . [Friedwald] accords each a substantial career retrospective, selected discography and wonderfully pithy interpretive essay. His tastes are wide-ranging and idiosyncratic . . . However unconventional, his judgments are usually spot-on . . . Friedwald’s exuberant medley is that rarest of things: music criticism that actually makes you sit up and listen.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
I think Will Friedwald’s Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers will be of real interest to anyone who cares about the music.
—Hugh Hefner, editor-in-chief of Playboy
If there were such a volume as the Great American Songbook, this book should be right next to it on your shelf. It is truly the definitive work on those who sing and swing those songs.
—Alan Bergman, Grammy and Academy Award–winning songwriter
Will Friedwald has created an instant classic reference tome with his Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers, the wealth of information and the breadth of knowledge being quite staggering. It is written without academic posturing but with wit and warmth and accessibility, covering in fascinating detail the careers of everyone from Jolson and Sinatra, of course, to Lee Wiley, Noel Coward and Marlene Dietrich; from Armstrong to Doris Day, and everyone in between. It will surely be considered an essential text.
This extensive work is essential and comprehensive. In opinionated, sometimes witty essays, Friedwald sorts out the lives and careers of more than three hundred singers, some of the greatest vocalists of the twentieth century including such giants as Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Bessie Smith. There are also dozens of unexpected inclusions. For example, Martha Raye merits almost seven pages and her entry helps dusts off her historical reputation as not just a zany character but rather an incredibly gifted and complex artist. . . . Friedwald spent ten years researching this magisterial reference book and it is certain to delight and inform anyone with a passion for the iconic music of America.
—Larry Cox, Tucson Citizen
Will writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal, and his previous book, STARDUST MELODIES: A Biography of Twelve of America’s Most Popular Songs, was also published by Pantheon. Dubbed (by Past Times magazine) as “The Poet Laureate of vintage pop music,” Friedwald is internationally recognized as the leading authority on jazz singing and “adult” pop music. He is also the author of Tony Bennett’s autobiography, THE GOOD LIFE (1998, Pocket Books) and JAZZ SINGING, published in hardcover by Scribner and in paperback by Da Capo Press.
Friedwald has written regularly about music for The Village Voice (since 1984) and also appears frequently in The New York Times. His work has also appeared in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Entertainment Weekly, Oxford American, New York, Entertainment Weekly, New York Newsday, L. A. Weekly, Mojo, BBC Music Magazine, Stereo Review, Fi(Delity), The New York Observer, Seven Days and numerous music and film journals.
With prolific television and radio experience under his belt, Friedwald has appeared on hundreds of program in both mediums. He has served as a consultant and on-screen commentator on many television documentaries and news programs (including ABC Nightline, The MacNeil-Lehrer Report, Good Morning America, The Today Show, CBS Sunday Morning, and A&E Biography’s profiles of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Mel Torme). On the radio, he has hosted many of his own regular disc jockey radio shows, and has also served as a commentator / “columnist” on the National Public Radio program Artbeat. He was a frequent guest with Stan Martin and Jonathan Schwartz on WQEW, and was the subject of an hour-long interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross. He served as a consultant and interviewee on NPR’s massive Ellington project as well as on dozens of installments of Jazz Profiles and other NPR documentary programs. In addition, Friedwald has produced and annotated hundreds of compact disc reissues, including several Grammy-winning packages (out of a total of six Grammy nominations).