Cover image for Faith in time : the life of Jimmy Scott
Faith in time : the life of Jimmy Scott
Ritz, David.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cambridge, MA : Da Capo Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xvii, 270 pages : portraits ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML420.S42 R58 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
ML420.S42 R58 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
ML420.S42 R58 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Black History Non-Circ

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Born in Cleveland in 1925, Little" Jimmy Scott lost his mother at age thirteen, the same year he was diagnosed with Kallman's syndrome. The disease stunted his growth and earned him his nickname, but it also left him with a haunting voice, a mesmerizing voice. He soon built a following as a singer touring with Lionel Hampton's great orchestra in the '40s, then performed with many of the stars of the '50s, from Lester Young to Charlie Parker to Dinah Washington, and was signed by Savoy Records. He thought he had his big break when, in 1962, Ray Charles produced what was by all accounts Jimmy's best work, Falling in Love Is Wonderful. But when it was forced off the shelves by contract disputes, Scott worked as an orderly and clerk in Cleveland for almost two decades. Fans thought he was dead-until songwriter Doc Pomus's funeral in March of 1991.As Pomus had instructed in his will, Jimmy sang over his friend's coffin. High-pitched and androgynous, his voice seemed to come out of thin air, transcending gender and age, evoking pure heartbreak. No one knew who he was-heads turned, celebrities conferred, record executives were reduced to tears-until finally Lou Reed turned around and whispered, "He's Jimmy Scott, the greatest jazz singer in the world." And so he was. By the next morning, he had a record deal with Sire that relaunched his career with the masterpiece All the Way, and he has been performing to packed clubs ever since. With full cooperation from Jimmy, his siblings, spouses, and colleagues from Ray Charles to Ruth Brown, Faith in Time is at once an intimate biography, an invaluable history of a life that spanned big band to bebop to pop, and the poignant story of a man whose voice will live forever."

Author Notes

David Ritz has collaborated with Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, B. B. King, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Smokey Robinson, and Don Rickles. He co-wrote the song Sexual Healing with Marvin Gaye. He received the Gleason Music Book Award four times.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Jazz singer Jimmy Scott should be better known for two attributes: one of the purest voices in popular music, and one of the all-time great comeback stories. Scott suffers from Kallman's syndrome, which stunted his growth at age 13 but left him with a haunting, androgynous voice. Every time success loomed, however, fate sidetracked his career. He had a huge hit in 1950 as vocalist with Lionel Hampton's band, but his name didn't appear on the record's label. A 1962 album produced by Ray Charles promised to be his commercial breakthrough, but it was withdrawn in a contractual dispute. After that setback, Scott worked menial jobs for 25 years. Then he sang before music-biz luminaries and record execs at the funeral of his songwriter friend, Doc Pomus. The next day he had a record contract, and today, at 77, he performs in packed clubs. Scott remains a cult figure, but his has grown into a large cult, probably eager to read this intimate portrait, written with his, his family's, and his colleagues' full cooperation. --Gordon Flagg

Publisher's Weekly Review

Ritz, who has helped Ray Charles and Laila Ali write their autobiographies, now turns his attentive eye to the life of singer "Little" Jimmy Scott. Born in Cleveland in 1925, Scott grew up in a town bursting with clubs and theaters that showcased the touring jazz greats, from big band to the then-nascent bebop. While still a teenager, Scott finagledhis way from a job as an usher at a Cleveland theater into singing a few numbers after Lester Young had performed. The audience was transfixed by his unearthly voice and clamored to know if he was a man or woman. Scott suffered from Kallman's Syndrome, which meant that his testicles never descended and his genitals never fully developed, keeping his voice in a high, haunting register. Never fully welcomed into the jazz world, Scott performed wherever and whenever he could over the decades. He sang with Lionel Hampton and Charlie Parker, recorded an album with Ray Charles and influenced a generation of singers from Frankie Valli to Marvin Gaye. But such occasional gigs never paid the bills and Scott kept taking odd jobs to support himself and his many poorly chosen spouses. A brief renaissance that came in the early 1990s offered the strange sight of the diminutive singer touring with Lou Reed and singing on an episode of Twin Peaks. Ritz keeps his distance, letting people like Reed, B.B. King, Quincy Jones, and especially the odd and feisty Scott himself, tell the story of a man caught between worlds and almost lost in time. (Oct. 2) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

With the release of the album All the Way in 1992, Jimmy Scott, then 66, finally got his due and was recognized as a master interpreter of vocal jazz. Ritz, who has written acclaimed biographies of Marvin Gaye, B.B. King, and Aretha Franklin, offers the first profile of the singer, written with the full cooperation of Scott, his family, and his colleagues. Refreshingly, Ritz refuses to sensationalize subjects that he could easily hype: Scott suffers from Kallman's Syndrome (a hormone deficiency that stunted the growth of his testicles), which resulted in his famous alto, and he has struggled with drinking. Instead, Ritz focuses on Scott's remarkable resiliency. Over the course of his 60-year career (which included a stint with Lionel Hampton's orchestra), he has overcome shady businessmen and personal crises with a stoic joie de vivre. This trait is very likely the reason he has been able to rely on friends over the years, to work jobs not related to music, and to realize he has a musical gift that will be acknowledged every so often. These career fits and starts would frustrate even the strongest person, so Scott's life is a fine example of a way to use talent while making a way in the world. Considering he began his career in the 1940s and continues to sing to this day, his story is intriguing and inspiring. Recommended for any library with healthy music holdings. William Kenz, Minnesota State Univ., Moorhead (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Meeting the Manp. ix
1 Born Behind the Beatp. 1
2 Darknessp. 15
3 Future Outlookp. 27
4 Angelp. 37
5 Gatesp. 47
6 Foolp. 61
7 The Jazz Lifep. 69
8 Jerseyp. 81
9 The Slave Barracksp. 89
10 Wyandanch, Long Islandp. 103
11 Motherless Childp. 115
12 Brother Rayp. 125
13 When the Sun Comes Outp. 137
14 Things Not Seenp. 145
15 The Sourcep. 153
16 The Harder They Fallp. 161
17 "Can't We Begin Again?"p. 169
18 "I'm Afraid Jimmy Scott Is Dead"p. 177
19 "I've Shed Enough Tears"p. 185
20 J's Wayp. 195
21 Hand from the Gravep. 203
22 Sound of Painp. 215
23 The Jazz Life Reduxp. 223
24 Jeaniep. 231
Acknowledgmentsp. 241
Bibliographyp. 243
Discographyp. 251
Indexp. 257