Give Now

Afterglow Jazz and American Popular Song

A Tribute to Margaret Whiting

Whiting helped to immortalize songs such as "That Old Black Magic" and "It Might As Well Be Spring."

Play Episode (Real Audio)
Margaret Whiting

Photo: Album cover art.

Whiting's 1959 Jerome Kern songbook album, one of numerous Whiting recordings featured on this Afterglow tribute, is considered by some critics to be her masterpiece.

Margaret Whiting, who passed away on January 10, 2011 at the age of 86, is one of the last great singers of the World War II era to leave us. Able to put songs across with a clarity and phrasing that suggested a quiet but wide-eyed wonder and sensuality, Whiting matured into an even more artful singer in her thirties, though she remains best-known for her 1940s recordings.

Whiting was born in Detroit in 1924, but she soon landed in Los Angeles after her father, Richard Whiting, established himself as a noted songwriter,giving her an up-close introduction to the Great American Songbook in the making; as a child she counted among her acquaintances, whom she called her “uncles,” George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Johnny Mercer, who collaborated with her father on songs such as “Hooray for Hollywood” and “Too Marvelous for Words”.

Mercer especially proved to be a crucial mentor, especially after Whiting lost her father to a heart attack; still a teenager, in the early 1940s she became one of the first singers to record for Mercer’s newly-founded Capitol Records label. There Whiting scored a series of hits, including “It Might As Well Be Spring” and “Moonlight in Vermont.” When Mercer gave the latter song to her she said, “I’ve never been to Vermont,” How can I sing a song about a place I’ve never been to? What is the significance of pennies in a stream? What are ski tows?” to which Mercer replied, “I don’t know. I’m from Savannah. We’ll use our imagination.”

Our Afterglow tribute to Margaret Whiting includes music from her early Capitol period, several sides from her 1959 masterpiece Sings the Jerome Kern Songbook, a duet medley with Mel Torme, and a late-period recording of “Can’t Teach My Old Heart New Tricks.”

Music Heard On This Episode

Make Someone Happy
Margaret Whiting — Broadway Right Now (Verve, 1960)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Make Someone Happy
Margaret Whiting — Broadway Right Now (Verve, 1960)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
I Won't Dance
Margaret Whiting — The Jerome Kern Songbook (Verve, 1960)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
My Ideal
Margaret Whiting — American Songbook Series: Richard Whiting (Smithsonian, 1996)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Moonlight in Vermont
Margaret Whiting — Complete Capitol Hits (Collectors' Choice, 2000)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
It Might as Well Be Spring
Margaret Whiting — Complete Capitol Hits (Collectors' Choice, 2000)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Day In, Day Out
Margaret Whiting — Spotlight on Margaret Whiting (Capitol, 1995)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
She's Funny That Way
Margaret Whiting — Spotlight on Margaret Whiting (Capitol, 1995)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Guilty
Margaret Whiting — Complete Capitol Hits (Collectors' Choice, 2000)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Little Girl Blue (midpoint music bed)
Margaret Whiting — Complete Capitol Hits (Collectors' Choice, 2000)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Why Was I Born?
Margaret Whiting — Jerome Kern Songbook (Verve, 1960)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Why Do I Love You?
Margaret Whiting — Jerome Kern Songbook (Verve, 2000)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
All the Things You Are
Margaret Whiting — Jerome Kern Songbook (Verve, 1960)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Far Away From Home/Angelina
Margaret Whiting/Mel Torme — Broadway Right Now (Verve, 1960)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Can't Teach My Old Heart New Tricks
Margaret Whiting — American Songbook Series: Richard Whiting (Smithsonian, 1995)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
That Old Black Magic
Margaret Whiting — Complete Capitol Hits (Collectors' Choice, 2000)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
Come Rain or Come Shine
Margaret Whiting — Complete Capitol Hits (Collectors' Choice, 2000)
Buy from Amazon »
album cover
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.

View all posts by this author »

Stay Connected

What is RSS? RSS makes it possible to subscribe to a website's updates instead of visiting it by delivering new posts to your RSS reader automatically. Choose to receive some or all of the updates from Afterglow:

Support For Indiana Public Media Comes From

About Afterglow

About The Host

Search Afterglow

This Week On Night Lights

Clark’s Last Leap: Sonny Clark, 1961-62

Leapin' and Lopin'

Sonny Clark was a young pianist with an already-impressive jazz legacy when he began a year-long string of classic hardbop recordings that ended with his death.

Read more »

Night Lights is WFIU's weekly program of classic jazz hosted by David Brent Johnson.

More from Night Lights »