Watching Jimmy Scott start his set in 1991 with ‘Blue Skies’ changed my life. He walked on stage, a tiny wrinkled older man, I didn’t know what to expect, and he opened his arms and opened his mouth and his voice transformed him into the most beautiful human being. I had never experienced anyone sing like this. It was like seeing the dawn for the first time. It was pure joy out of thin air. All of the pain in his heart came out as gold.
Mitchell Froom brought me there - and perhaps it was to help me sing a little better - and it is a lesson I am only starting to learn 20 years later. All the songs I’m writing now and everything I am doing now is to sing like this. I am lucky I was able to see him so many times through the years. I mean listen to this beautiful version of Day By Day. He lays across the orchestra as if it was a field of flowers. This record is available here.
Now he is 83 and still starts his set with Blue Skies. Stuck on a wheelchair at the Echoplex he doesn’t have the air to sing like he used to but I think its the joy that keeps him up there. Yeah maybe he needs the money as well, but the legacy of the miracle that comes through him fuels not only the obvious love of his band (the Jazz Expressions), but also kept the audience happy and present. I mean he only played 6 songs - but no one minded - we were all there to celebrate the beauty of this man.