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Afterglow Jazz and American Popular Song

American Icons: The Singers

Celebrating the legendary singers of American popular song.

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Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby

Photo: Flickr

Louis Armstrong (seen here in a non-singing moment) and Bing Crosby: two vocalists helping to set the standard for the Great American Songbook.

They’re voices to us, and they’re often faces as well, heard on the radio, seen in the movies or on television, sometimes ending up on postage stamps, etched into our popular culture as the tale-tellers of love, hope, heartbreak, and longing. This week Afterglow features the recordings of American icons of popular song, celebrating the singers of those songs. Songs have to be written, of course, and arranged and orchestrated, and recorded, but it’s the vocalists we most associate with those songs, the artists who put them across with emotion and meaning and make them resonate for us as melodic stories—stories of people alone and together, reflecting on life, loss, and love. Singers such as Frank Sinatra, Billie Holiday, and Bing Crosby summon images to mind for us now, of a guy alone in a saloon late at night, a woman on a stoop, a man strolling down the street with a carefree air. We’ll hear those singers and many more on “American Icons.”

Music Heard On This Episode

Summertime
Louis Armstrong/Ella Fitzgerald — Porgy and Bess (Verve, 2008)
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Summertime
Louis Armstrong/Ella Fitzgerald — Porgy and Bess (Verve, 2008)

Notes: 8:01 p.m.

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America the Beautiful
Frank Sinatra — The Reprise Collection (Warner, 1990)

Notes: 8:07 p.m.

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As Time Goes By
Billie Holiday — The Commodore Master Takes (Polygram, 2000)

Notes: 8:09 p.m.

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I've Got A Pocketful of Dreams
Bing Crosby — Bing: His Legendary Years (MCA, 1993)

Notes: 8:13 p.m.

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Nice Work If You Can Get It
Fred Astaire — The Early Years At RKO (Sony, 2013)

Notes: 8:16 p.m.

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Boys and Girls Like You and Me
Judy Garland — Complete Decca Masters (MCA, 1994)

Notes: 8:19 p.m.

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Bess, You Is My Woman Now
Louis Armstrong/Ella Fitzgerald — Porgy and Bess (Verve, 2008)

Notes: 8:22 p.m.

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Let's Get Lost
Chet Baker — Let's Get Lost: Best of Chet Baker Sings (Blue Note, 1989)

Notes: 8:30 p.m.

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It's Magic
Doris Day — The Essential Doris Day (Sony, 2014)

Notes: 8:34 p.m.

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The Best Is Yet To Come
Tony Bennett — Fifty Years: The Artistry Of Tony Bennett (Sony, 2004)

Notes: 8:37 p.m.

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All Through The Night
Johnny Mathis — The Music Of Johnny Mathis: A Personal Collection (Sony, 2001)

Notes: 8:40 p.m.

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Sophisticated Lady
Sarah Vaughan — Sophisticated Lady: The Duke Ellington Songbook (Pablo, 2013)

Notes: 8:44 p.m.

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See Line Woman
Nina Simone — The Ultimate Nina Simone (Polygram, 1997)

Notes: 8:48 p.m.

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Georgia On My Mind
Ray Charles — The Very Best Of Ray Charles (Rhino, 2000)

Notes: 8:51 p.m.

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Stardust
Nat King Cole — The Very Best Of Nat King Cole (Capitol, 2006)

Notes: 8:54 p.m.

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David Brent Johnson

Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, David Brent Johnson moved to Bloomington in 1991. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, and began working with WFIU in 2002. Currently, David serves as jazz producer and systems coordinator at the station. His interests include literature, history, music, writing, and movies.

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