Jimmy Scott on what makes a great vocalist

Now, a Jazz Moment...

MUSIC: "Stay With Me" CD: Lost and Found. Rhino R2 71059 (cut 2)

According tyo NEA Jazz Master Jimmy Scott, the two most important components of being a great vocalist are...

Jimmy Scott: Know that melody. And know what the lyric is trying to tell the public. And if you present it right, it works.

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To effectively interpret a lyric, you have to have some depth. Have lived. And Jimmy Scott has. The third child in a family of 10, he lost his mother when he was just 13 years old. Soon after, he was afflicted with a hereditary condition that froze his physical development. His voice never deepened and he remains small with delicate features -- attributes that add to his arresting stage presence. He almost appears otherworldly.

Jimmy Scott: There's times in certain songs that I might be in my own world and if- who cares about who's out there, you know. You have that job to do. So you do that job of singing that song or telling that story because that's what you're doing. If you're singing, you're telling a story. So to tell it and tell it right, that's it. Hmm-hmmm.

MUSIC: up and fades under

This Jazz Moment with vocalist Jimmy Scott was created by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Jimmy Scott on what makes a great vocalist