Topic: Bobby Short
Bobby Short (September 15, 1924 – March 21, 2005) was an American cabaret singer known for his interpretation of songs by 20th century composers such as Rodgers and Hart, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, Harold Arlen, Vernon Duke and George Gershwin and Ira Gershwin. He also championed African-American composers of the same period such as Eubie Blake, James P. Johnson, Andy Razaf, Fats Waller and Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn, presenting their work not in a polemical way, but as simply the obvious equal of that of their paler contemporaries. His dedication to his great love – what he called the "Great American Song" – left him equally adept at performing the witty lyrics of Bessie Smith's "Gimme a Pigfoot" or Gershwin and Duke's I Can't Get Started with You. Short always said his favorite songwriters were Ellington, Arlen and Kern, and he was instrumental in spearheading the construction of the Ellington Memorial in his beloved New York City. He was born Robert Waltrip Short in Danville, Illinois, where one of his school classmates was Dick Van Dyke. He began performing as a busker after leaving home at the age of eleven for Chicago, with his mother's permission. He started working in clubs in the 1940s. In 1968 he was offered a two-week stint at the Café Carlyle in New York City, to fill in for George Feyer. Short became an institution at the Carlyle, as had Feyer been before him, and remained there for many years. There, a combination of traits – his seemingly-effortless elegance; his vocal phrasing (perfected, as was that of Frank Sinatra's, at the feet of Miss Mabel Mercer, with perhaps also some help from Ethel Waters); his talent for presenting unknown songs worth knowing while keeping well-known songs fresh; his infectious good cheer; and his resolute, self-disciplined professionalism – earned him great respect and made him tremendously popular.