Once considered by saxophonist Stan Getz as the natural successor to Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, the Tacoma, Washington-born singer Diane Schuur is now in the fourth decade of her award-studded career. To celebrate, in June she released a live CD, Diane Schuur: Live in London, captured at that city's famed club Ronnie Scott's. The disc shows her in top form, belting out standards like "Bésame Mucho" and James Taylor's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight." All are marked by her unique interpretation, which fleshes out the lyrics and melody of a tune by taking full advantage of her three-and-a-half-octave range.
Growing up in suburban Seattle, Schuur was encouraged to sing from an early age, when she imitated some of her favorite singers. Mentored by Getz after he heard her at the Monterey Jazz Festival in the late Seventies, she was signed to GRP Records in 1982. Two years later the label released her debut, Deedles, and she has since regularly recorded and toured.
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With maturity, she has abandoned the upper-register screeching common on her first releases, and has gone on to become an impressive performer, mixing pop and jazz tunes in her repertoire, which appeals to a mainstream audience. In a live setting, Schuur maintains a staunchly positive attitude, bringing out the affirmative side of tunes even when the lyrics say otherwise. Even a lament like "Over the Rainbow" is transformed into an anthem about the singer's own resilience.