St. Louis Post-Dispatch - 12-7-95

Remember when singers really knew how to sing? Rosemary Clooney never forgot. An astounding 50 years into her career, she retains the sublime jazz phrasing that has made her one of popular music's most graceful interpreters.

Clooney's musical story began in 1945, when she sang in a duo with her late sister Betty. Clooney's solo career began in the late '40s when she signed to Columbia. By the early '50s, she was making her national name with such novelty hits as "Come On-A My House" and "Botch-A-Me." Despite the monster appeal of those tunes, she continued to focus on more serious pop and jazz material.

Her vocal style epitomizes grace and ease, but Clooney's life has not been without trauma. She battled a dependence on pills and alcohol. An infamous on-stage breakdown during a 1968 appearance in Reno landed Clooney in a psychiatric ward.

But Clooney battled her way back from personal tragedy and career death. It's the sort of gutsy comeback story lots of contemporary artists would do well to consider.

These days, it's hard to read about Clooney without also reading about her familial connections to younger celebrities. Her nephew, George Clooney, is currently one of the leading resident hunks of the television series "ER." Clooney's daughter-in-law, Debby Boone, is best remembered for the treacly 1977 hit "You Light Up My Life." (And Debby Boone herself brings her own strangely twisted branch to the family tree, going back to her white-bucks wearing dad, pop crooner Pat Boone, and her maternal grandfather, Grand Ole Opry regular Red Foley.)

Clooney continues to record for the highly respected Concord Jazz label.

While the kitschy cocktail-nation bands have lionized bandleader and space-age bachelor pad king Esquivel (who, when it comes right down to it, is really pretty awful), they often lack a serious appreciation for far more substantive artists. And Rosemary Clooney has always been about substance.

Rosemary Clooney

Where: Rickman Auditorium, 745 Jeffco Blvd., Arnold

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

How Much: $16.50

More Info: 296-8000

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