An interview with the American jazz singer Sue Raney about her Doris Day tribute album

September 30, 2007 No Comments

I understand your new album “Heart’s Desire: A Tribute To Doris Day” is released on an anniversary year for you. What actually inspired you to start singing and how does it feel to now reach such a landmark anniversary?
My mother was a singer and I had a great great Aunt that performed in German opera. So it’s somewhere there in the genes (ha). I started singing around 4, when my Mom & Dad heard my sister and I singing for our paper dolls. They thought it might be important for me to take singing lessons…so, I began performing at a very early age. It was 50 years ago, at Capitol studio A, that I recorded my first album with Nelson Riddle (16, going on 17), so when we decided to do this tribute to Doris Day, we wanted to go back to the same studio for a wonderful “landmark anniversary” as you so aptly put it.

Doris also celebrates an anniversary in 2007. It’s 60 years since she started recording solo for Columbia Records. What is your first memory of Doris’s music and where did the idea come to record a DD tribute album when many tend to overlook the “singing” aspect of her career?
My first memory of D.D. was seeing her in “Romance On The High Seas”. I loved it, and she was so stylish and pretty and I loved her singing. That’s why I wanted to pay a tribute to her. She was a strong influence in my teen years.

As you may or may not know Doris Day actually recorded over 600 songs. What therefore inspired/influenced the song choices for your CD?
The songs that I chose were everything I loved the most – the songs that mostly touched me.

Is there a particular song on your new CD that had a “special” meaning to you?
“Que Sera” is my favorite. It’s the song I connect D.D. to, and when we decided to do it slowly – the simple lyrics just seemed to come alive for me, and were so very poignant.

Have you ever met Ms. Day?
Years ago when I was doing demos for songwriters, my mother and I went to Marty Melcher’s office with the songwriters that I had done the demo’s for. It was there where I met my soon to be manager, Pierre Cossette (who had an office there) and it was he who was responsible for my being signed to Capitol Records. Because from time to time I would go there to see Pierre, one day this freckle faced, lovely lady walked in, and of course I got to shake her hand and say hello briefly. I was just thrilled, and she signed an 8×10 for me. She would probably not remember that occasion, but I have not forgotten it.

I note your album is released by a European record label. Seeing as Europe holds such a great affection for Doris do you have any plans to promote your CD over here?
I hope so. I toured Europe several years ago with the L.A. Voices (a vocal group that I was the lead singer with). Med Flory of Supersax started the voices, and there are great audiences there. The same goes for Japan, where I’ve gone many times.

Can you pass on any words of wisdom to any “budding” singers at the start of their careers?
I have always told my vocal students over the years that I wish I had the magic wand or formula for success. The best thing I could say is always do the music and words that speak to your soul, and what’s in your heart, so you’ll always be singing the things that you want to give to the audience, and you will be successful as a performer. Study and use vocal technique and keep your voice in shape by doing exercises so that when you sing you will always know your instrument will do what you require it to do. Having a good teacher and coach is essential so you’re not on your own. Then do everything that comes your way until you reach the plateau where you can choose the great jobs – then you will know you have come the distance. Keep striving and remember your work is not your life, it is part of your life, but who you are, and how you live your life is what success is.

The “Discovering Doris” site really enjoyed your CD. The question we’d like to ask is will music lovers have to wait as long before your next studio album?
I hope not.

Sincere thanks to Sue Raney for taking the time to do this Q&A interview (conducted by Stephen M).

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