Afterglow Jazz and American Popular Song

Andy Bey: A Tribute

Jazz singer and pianist Andy Bey is enjoying a late period of renewed appreciation in a long and sometimes-submerged career.

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Andy Bey Shades Of Bey Album Cover

Photo: Album Cover

Andy Bey's album "Shades Of Bey" is featured this week on Afterglow, as we pay tribute to Bey in advance of his 70th birthday (coming up on October 28) with a musical overview of the pianist-singer's life.

Pianist-vocalist Andy Bey is a bass-baritone who took Nat King Cole as his early model for singing, and who’s had a long but somewhat submerged career. He grew up in Newark, New Jersey in the 1940s and 50s, and was singing with jazz acts by the time he was 8. He recorded his first album, Mama’s Little Boy’s Got the Blues, when he was 13. At age 17 he formed an act with his sisters, Salome and Geraldine; they toured Europe together and recorded three albums in the 1960s, earning comparisons to Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, but with more of a church-and-blues-influenced approach.

After the Andy Bey and the Bey Sisters group broke up, Bey went on to make a number of records with jazz performers such as Max Roach and Horace Silver, often singing songs with strong political and cultural messages, as well as some of the pieces that Silver called his “metaphysical self-help” songs. In recent years Bey’s released several CDs focusing on American popular song that have gotten him renewed attention.

Afterglow pays tribute to Bey in advance of his 70th birthday (coming up on October 28) with a musical overview of the pianist-singer’s life. The program also features music from Frank Sinatra, Chris Connor, George Benson, and Ivie Anderson with Duke Ellington.

Listen to an NPR profile of Andy Bey.

Watch Andy Bey and the Bey Sisters live in 1965:

Music Heard On This Episode

Like a Lover
Andy Bey — Shades of Bey (Evidence, 1998)
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album cover
Like a Lover
Andy Bey — Shades of Bey (Evidence, 1998)
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All About Ronnie
Chris Connor — Chris (Bethlehem, 1996)
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Ballads, Blues and Bey
Andy Bey — Ballads, Blues and Bey (Evidence, 1996)
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Always
Frank Sinatra — Sinatra's Swingin' Session!!! (Capitol, 1998)
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A Taste of Honey
Bey Sisters — Andy Bey & the Bey Sisters (Prestige, 2000)
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Peace
Horace Silver — United States of Mind (Blue Note, 2004)
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Willow Weep for Me
Bey Sisters — Andy Bey and the Bey Sisters (Prestige, 2000)
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I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart
Andy Bey — Ain't Necessarily So (12th St. Records, 2007)
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Kissin' My Baby Goodnight
Ivie Anderson/Duke Ellington — Raisin' the Rent (Hep, 2000)
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Easy Living
George Benson — George Benson/Jack McDuff (Prestige, 2007)
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Lonely Town
Andy Bey — American Song (Savoy Jazz, 2004)
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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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