July 8 ~  Religion is Inside Great Eckstine Posters

"I'm a firm believer and I think my religion is inside." ~ Billy Eckstine

Billy Eckstine

Innovative Jazz singer and bandleader William Clarence Eckstein (1914-1993) was born on this day in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. With a passion for football and music, he entered his first singing contest at age seven.

"If you want to be a doctor, a lawyer you must go to college. But if you want to be a musician or such, study your craft. Study music," he said.

In 1939, Eckstine, "Mr. B.," sang and played the trumpet with Earl “Fatha” Hines’ band and worked nightclubs with Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, and Charlie Parker, singing the unforgettable (and romantic) Jelly, Jelly. Honing his skills, learning new licks.

In 1944, he formed his own band, the first true bebop. This music was a celebration of jazz and swing. He was smooth.

"I like a song that tells a story and has some meat to it, you know, that means something," he said and concentrated on singing with his incredible voice in the 1950s.

With his sexy bass-baritone he created mainstream success and rivaled Frank Sinatra with such hits as That Old Black Magic, I Apologise, and I Wanna Be Loved.

Biographer Will Friedwald said Billy's "blue dream of a voice" was "so unendingly beautiful, rich and full, that one has a hard time believing that something so perfect can exist in the natural world."

His vibrato hit the heart. And his daper style wooed the fashion world with high necked loose collar, narrow ties, and flowing jackets. He oozed elegance and charm and once said, "You can't sing about love unless you know about it."

Shhh. Listen to what's inside.