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Nancy LaMott, probably the greatest singer of American Popular Standards
of her generation, was on the verge of stardom when she was struck down, at the
age of 43, by Uterine Cancer.
Nancy came from the Midwestern town of Midland, Michigan (or, as she used to
call it, a suburb of the Dow Chemical Company.) She coped with a childhood that
was less than idyllic by singing with her father’s band, and by developing
Crohn’s Disease, a serious but little known bowel and immune disorder that
surfaced in her late teens.
Although she was often hospitalized and desperately ill, she knew she had to
get out of Midland and pursue her dream as a singer. At the age of 19, she
and her brother Brett, who was her drummer, headed out to San Francisco.
Nancy soon became one of the most sought-after cabaret singers in San
Francisco, but her illness continued and she found herself alternating between
singing triumphs and hospital stays. In addition, Nancy often had long
periods where she had to be on cortisone and prescription pain killers for her
disease, and addictive patterns and eating disorders became an added burden for
her. But still, her singing triumphed, and soon she realized she had
conquered San Francisco and needed to head for New York.
Unfortunately, due to her illness and her tremendous medical bills, Nancy had
no money, another problem that would plague her throughout her life. But
as so often happened, a loyal friend and fan had such belief in her that he gave
her a plane ticket, and she was on her way to New York.
The pattern that had occurred in San Francisco reoccurred in New York.
Nancy quickly became known in the small circle of the cabaret world as one of
the great singers of her time, but her momentum toward success was always
interrupted by illness, surgery and the resulting lack of funds. People
were captivated not only by Nancy’s talent, but by her simple goodness and
beauty of spirit, and she made many good friends, including David Zippel, Mark
Sendroff, Bill McGrath and Bob Baker, who were there for her triumphs and helped
her through the bad times. Still, somehow she remained New York cabaret’s
best kept secret. But all that was about to change.
In 1989 she met composer/conductor David Friedman, who felt she should be
making records, and offered to produce them himself. When the first record,
“Beautiful Baby” was completed, Nancy walked into HMV Records and said “Hi, I
made this. Would you sell it?” And HMV took 8 copies. But they played it
in the store, and to hear Nancy was to buy Nancy. Soon the company made
enough money to make a second record. This time, HMV started with 250, and
the record went into the top 10 in the store. Through her records, Nancy’s
popularity began to spread to a wider circle and she began breaking attendance
records at some the most prestigious clubs in New York including the Chestnut
Room at Tavern on the Green and the world famous Oak Room at the Algonquin. A
close-knit team developed around her, which included her pianist/arranger
Chris Marlowe (who had been working with her for years, co-creating the
arrangements and the sound that would become the hallmark of her recordings and
live performances), Director Scott Barnes, and some of New York’s
finest musicians and designers, which became known around town as Team LaMott.
But Nancy was still not past her medical problems. Each year she would make a
record, and somewhere during the process, go into the hospital for intestinal
bypass surgery. Finally, her disease became too serious, and she was forced to
have an ileostomy. This surgery changed her life in that for the first time she
felt well and could eat whatever she wanted. With her newfound energy and
health, her career really took off.
In the subsequent year and a half, Nancy toured extensively, was discovered
by WQEW disc jockey Jonathan Schwartz which led to her being played on 1000
radio stations all over the country, and appeared on numerous television shows
including Live With Regis & Kathie Lee. Kathie Lee Gifford became a huge
fan and played an enormous part in promoting Nancy nationally and also in
personally supporting her toward the end of her life. That year Nancy also sang
at the White House twice, and became a favorite of the Clintons.
All seemed to be going wonderfully, until March of 1995, when Nancy was
diagnosed with Uterine Cancer. A race with the clock now began, and
everything in Nancy’s life accelerated. Nancy chose to do hormone therapy
as opposed to surgery so that she could complete the greatest album of her
career, “Listen To My Heart,” with a full orchestra orchestrated by the
legendary Peter Matz. Just after her diagnosis, Nancy was in San Francisco
doing an AIDS benefit when she was introduced to actor Pete Zapp. They
quickly fell in love and began a bicoastal romance.
In July, Nancy was told that the hormone therapy had not worked and that she
needed to have a hysterectomy. She postponed it one month so that she
could play the Algonquin one more time. As soon as that engagement was
over, Nancy had the surgery and was told that the cancer had spread slightly and
that she would need chemotherapy. During this period, Nancy kept
performing, doing a sold out week at Tavern on the Green, and even fulfilling
concert dates around the country. Then she would have a chemo treatment
and spend a week at Kathie and Frank Gifford’s in Connecticut recovering.
The chemo and the disease began to take their toll, and just a few days after
her last performances, an appearance on "Charles Grodin" and her regular annual
visit to WQEW’s on-air Christmas Party, Nancy was rushed to the hospital and her
shocked friends and family were told that she had just a couple of days to live.
Peter Zapp and her family and friends rushed to her side. That night,
President and Mrs. Clinton phoned her in the hospital to wish her well.
Kathie Lee Gifford kept the country informed of her condition. David
Friedman promised her that the whole world would hear her sing. And in the
last hour of her life, Father Stephen Harris performed a bedside wedding
ceremony for Nancy and Peter.
Nancy LaMott had it all, if only for 45 minutes. She died with friends and
family around her, married for the first time in her life, and knowing she was
on her way to worldwide recognition.
The outpouring of support and love that followed Kathie Lee’s tearful on-air
announcement of Nancy’s death the next morning has grown and grown as people
around the world have been discovering the glorious singing of Nancy LaMott.
We lost Nancy too early, but her beauty and talent live on through the legacy of
her legendary recordings.
Since Nancy’s tragic and untimely death, her six albums have soared in
popularity and her story has touched thousands of people across the nation.
For those of you who have been following the difficulties that ensued around
the continued release of Nancy's CD's after her death, we are thrilled to report
that, after 7-1/2 years, we have finally resolved all the issues with Nancy’s
family and Nancy’s estate and are re-releasing all her CD’s. Look for them soon
in stores around the country. In addition, we are planning several new CD’s of
previously unreleased material, DVD’s of Nancy’s live performances and
interviews plus a TV movie of the week.
MIDDER MUSIC TO REISSUE THE LATE NANCY LAMOTT’S CATALOGUE
PLUS NEW LIVE CD RECORDED AT TAVERN ON THE GREEN
An Early Valentine To Arrive in Stores on February 1
As the 10th anniversary of her untimely death at age 43
approaches, New York-based MIDDER Music begins a celebration of
the life and work of the late cabaret singer Nancy LaMott by
re-issuing her catalogue of recordings and releasing her first
new CD in eight years. Arriving in stores on February 1, in time
for Valentine’s Day, will be six of LaMott’s studio recordings
plus the new NANCY LAMOTT – LIVE AT TAVERN ON THE GREEN,
a monumental collection of both favorites and rarities recorded
live just seven weeks before she died.
Nancy LaMott was poised for international recognition when
she succumbed to cancer in 1995. Her producer David Friedman,
who launched MIDDER as a home for LaMott’s recordings, has
lovingly compiled the new live CD from recordings made of her
last nightclub engagement, which opened on October 27, 1995. He
has selected songs long associated with LaMott as well as
several that she never previously recorded in the studio and has
intercut the charming, intercuttng the engaging patter for which
she was well known.
Backing LaMott on the live CD are her long-time arranger and
musical director Christopher Marlowe on piano, Steve LaSpina on
bass and John Redsecker on drums. Included on the CD are LaMott
"standards," among them Irving Berlin’s "I Got the Sun in the
Morning" and "How Deep is the Ocean," James Taylor’s "Secret
O’Life," "The Promise (I’ll Never Say Goodbye)," written by
David Shire and Marilyn and Alan Bergman, and two David Friedman
classics, "Help is On the Way" and her signature "Listen to My
Heart." Songs on this new CD that she never previously recorded
are Rupert Holmes’ "The People That You Never Get To Love," Dean
Pitchford and Alan Mencken’s "Sailin' On," the Harry
Warren-Johnny Mercer classic, "Jeepers Creepers," Antonio Carlos
Joabim’s "Waters of March" and Rodgers and Hart’s "I Didn't Know
What Time It Was."
The CDs set for re-release, all produced by Friedman, are
LaMott’s recording debut BEAUTIFUL BABY (1991), COME RAIN OR
COME SHINE: THE SONGS OF JOHNNY MERCER (1992), MY FOOLISH HEART
(1993), her breakthrough LISTEN TO MY HEART (1995), for which
Barbra Streisand’s orchestrator Peter Matz came on board to
co-produce with a full orchestra and WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT
GOODBYE?(1996), the bittersweet collection that Friedman
released a year after her death. Her holiday recording, "Just in
Time for Christmas," will be re-released later in the year.
All of these MIDDER Music releases are being distributed by
LML Music via Allegro Distribution.