Ann Hampton Callaway

I'd be willing to wager that, in 1995, more Americans knew all the words to The Nanny theme song than to Coolio's chart-topping rap single "Gangsta's Paradise." Both were cultural phenomena in the mid-Nineties, but no pop single has the broad-spectrum appeal and mass distribution of a major TV sitcom. I would also wager that, as is so often the case in the behind-the-scenes world of the entertainment industry, few if any of those same Americans knew who penned and performed the catchy little ditty.

Though she might be best (un)known for her swinging song about a class-jumping yenta, Ann Hampton Callaway is an accomplished singer in various modes of American song. Over the past 16 years, Callaway has recorded nearly a dozen albums, ranging from pop standards to blues and vocal jazz. Throughout, Callaway complements an easy, somewhat languid tenor with a lyricist's vocal approach; crystal-clear enunciation adds strength and weight to the words carried by her strong voice. This proclivity for lyrical emphasis is readily apparent in the narrative style of The Nanny theme, and certainly helped propel the show to considerable popularity during its six-season run. After all, everybody loves a sing-along.