William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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EYDIE GORME – AT 11:05 A.M. ET:  The singer Eydie Gorme has died at 84.  The number of obituaries run this morning underline her importance to American popular song.

As a solo, and as a partner with her husband, Steve Lawrence ("Steve and Eydie"), Eydie Gorme was one of the first American singers to become popular in the 1950s through the new medium of television.   They were a staple on the very old "Tonight Show," when it was hosted by Steve Allen.  Their television career did not last long, as they were identified with great standards, and Steve Allen, and rock 'n' roll was rushing in, and Steve Allen was rushing out. 

Later they continued their careers in night clubs and even larger venues, drawing big crowds into the 1980s.  Eydie Gorme, who grew up in a Spanish-speaking household in New York, also had a very successful career singing in Spanish, or singing songs with Spanish themes.  Her great hit, in 1963, was "Blame it on the Bossa Nova." 

Steve and Eydie were audience favorites who never compromised their musical tastes.  As they grew older, their audiences did as well, although they also developed a respectable following among younger listeners who'd grown up on rock.  They married in 1957.

Eydie Gorme's career reminds us that we once had truly great popular music in America, sung by singers who actually could sing, and who could engage the audience.  We had real composers and lyricists.  Our music entertained, but didn't degrade.  I have to believe there's still an audience for that music.  And I know there are young people who still love it.  I've met them.

And Doris Day still lives.

August 11, 2013