Jimmy Scott  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Jimmy Scott (July 17, 1925 in Cleveland), aka "Little" Jimmy Scott, is an American jazz vocalist.

Scott has Kallmann's syndrome, a genetic condition. The condition stunted his growth at four feet eleven inches until, at age 37, he grew another 8 inches to the height of five foot seven inches. The condition prevented him from reaching puberty, leaving him with a high, undeveloped voice in the contralto range, hence his nickname "Little" Jimmy Scott.

Lionel Hampton gave him the stage name of "Little Jimmy Scott" because he looked so young, and was short and slight of build. However, it was his extraordinary phrasing and romantic feeling that made him a favorite singer of fellow artists like Billie Holiday, Ray Charles, Dinah Washington, and Nancy Wilson.

Scott was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Authur and Justine Stanard Scott, third in a family of ten. As a child he got his first singing experience by his mother's side at the family piano, and later, in church choir. His father was absent most of the time as he was taken with drink, gambling, and other women. Jimmy worshipped his mother, and whatever money he could make doing odd-jobs, went to her to help the family. At thirteen, he was orphaned when his mother was killed by a drunk driver. Witnesses say that she pushed one of Jimmy's siblings out of the way of a speeding car but, in the process of saving her child's life, lost her own.


Early career

Scott first rose to national prominence as "Little Jimmy Scott" in the Lionel Hampton Band when he sang lead on the late 1940s hit "Everybody's Somebody's Fool", recorded in December 1949 and which became a top ten R&B hit in 1950. Credit on the label, however, went to a 'male vocalist', a slight to his talent and a blow to his career. A similar professional insult occurred several years later, when his vocal on "Embraceable You" with Charlie Parker, on the album "One Night in Birdland", was credited to female vocalist Chubby Newsome.

In 1963, it looked as though Scott's luck had changed for the good. Signed to Ray Charles's Tangerine label, he recorded under the supervision of Charles himself, creating what is considered by many to be one of the great jazz vocal albums of all time, Falling in Love is Wonderful. Owing to obligations on a contract Jimmy had signed earlier with Herman Lubinsky, the record was yanked from the shelves in a matter of days, while Jimmy was honeymooning. 40 years later this cult album became available to the public again. Jimmy disputes the 'lifetime' contract; Lubinsky loaned Jimmy out to Syd Nathan at King Records for 45 recordings in 1957 & 58.

Another legendary masterpiece, the album The Source (1969), on which Jimmy sings as intensely as ever, was not released until 2001.

Scott's career faded by the late 1960s and he returned to his native Cleveland to work in a hospital and as an elevator operator in a hotel.

Comeback and Later Career

Scott resurfaced in 1991 when he sang at the funeral of his long-time friend Doc Pomus. Afterwards Lou Reed recruited him to sing back-up on the track "Power and Glory" on his 1992 album Magic and Loss, which was inspired, to an extent, by Pomus' death. Afterwards, Scott was seen on the series finale of David Lynch's show Twin Peaks, singing "Sycamore Trees." He was featured on the soundtrack of the follow-up film Fire Walk With Me. This brought him to the attention of the music industry and he has enjoyed significant success since then.

His comeback took off in earnest with the 1992 release of the album "All The Way" on Sire Records, produced by Tommy Lipuma and featuring artists such as Kenny Barron, Ron Carter, and David "Fathead" Newman. Jimmy Scott was nominated for a Grammy Award for this album.

He followed this up with the album "Dream" in 1994, and the jazz-gospel album "Heaven" in 1996. He also recorded an album of mostly pop and rock covers, "Holding Back the Years" in 1998, including his own version of Prince's Nothing Compares 2 U (a world hit for Sinéad O'Connor).

In 1999, his early recordings on the Decca label were re-released on CD, as were all of his recordings with the Savoy Label between 1952 and 1975 in a 3 disc Box Set. In 2000, Jimmy Scott was signed to the Milestone jazz label, and recorded four critically acclaimed albums, each produced by Todd Barkan, and featuring a variety of jazz artists, including Wynton Marsalis, Renee Rosnes, Bob Kindred, Eric Alexander, Lew Soloff, George Mraz, Lewis Nash, and many more, as well as Jimmy's own touring and recording band "The Jazz Expressions". He also released two live albums, both recorded in Japan, and featuring the Jazz Expressions.

Jimmy Scott's career has spanned sixty five years. He has performed with a list of artists that reads like a history of jazz music of the time, including Charlie Parker, Sarah Vaughan, Lester Young, Lionel Hampton, Charles Mingus, Fats Navarro, Bud Powell, Ray Charles, Wynton Marsalis, and Peter Cincotti. He has also performed with a host of musicians from other genres of music, such as David Byrne, Lou Reed, Flea, Michael Stipe, and Antony & The Johnsons. Scott performed at President Eisenhower's (1953) and President Clinton's (1993) Inaugurations where he sang the same song "Why Was I Born".

Most recently he has appeared in live performances with Pink Martini, and continues to perform internationally at music festivals and at his own concerts.

In 2007 Jimmy Scott received the 2007 NEA Jazz Masters National Endowment of the Arts Jazz Master Award. Scott also received the Kennedy Center's "Jazz In Our Time" Living Legend Award, and N.A.B.O.B.'s Pioneer Award in 2007. In September 2008 he did a "two-day video interview" at his Vegas home with the "Smithsonian Institute for the National Archives".

Scott is working on a new album "I Remember You" dedicated to his wife Jeanie. Along with "Special Guest" Artists & Duets, this CD will be uniquely different from anything he's ever done before and is planned for release on his Wedding Anniversary, New Year's Eve December 31, 2009.

For the last three years Scott and his wife Jeanie have been living in Las Vegas, Nevada, after living in Euclid, Ohio for 10 years.



  • Very Truly Yours (Savoy) (1955)
  • If You Only Knew (Savoy) (1956)
  • The Fabulous Songs Of Jimmy Scott (Savoy) 1960)
  • Falling In Love Is Wonderful (Tangerine) (1963) (Re-issue 2003)
  • The Source (Atlantic) (1969) (Re-issue 2001)
  • Can't We Begin Again (Savoy) (1975)
  • Doesn't Love Mean More (J's Way) (1990)
  • Live In New Orleans (1951 Concert) (Fantasy) (1991)
  • All The Way (Sire) (1992)
  • Dream (Sire) (1994)
  • Heaven (Sire) (1996)
  • Holding Back The Years (Artists Only) (1998)
  • Mood Indigo (Milestone) (2000)
  • Over The Rainbow (Milestone) (2001)
  • Unchained Melody (Live Album) (Tokuma) (2001)
  • But Beautiful (Milestone) (2002)
  • Moonglow (Milestone) (2003)
  • All Of Me: Live In Tokyo (Venus) (2004)


  • Lost And Found (Rhino) (1993)
  • Bravo Profiles: A Jazz Master (Bravo) (1993)
  • All Over Again (Savoy Jazz) (1995)
  • Everybody's Somebody's Fool (Universal) (1999)
  • The Savoy Years & More (Box Set) (Savoy Jazz) (1999)
  • Les Incontournables (Warner) (2000)
  • Timeless (Savoy Jazz) (2002)
  • Someone To Watch Over Me (2-Disc) (Warner) (2004)
  • The Essential Jimmy Scott (Metro) (2005)
  • Milestone Profiles: Jimmy Scott (Milestone) (2006)


  • Twin Peaks – "29-Beyond Life and Death" (1991)
  • Scotch & Milk (1998)
  • Chelsea Walls (2002)
  • Stormy Weather: The Music of Harold Arlen (2002) (TV)
  • Jimmy Scott: If You Only Knew (DVD) (2003)

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Jimmy Scott" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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