It was Thanksgiving 2012. Pearl’s only grandchild had just shared good news with her. The summer of 2013 he would be working at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. Google would be flying him from East Coast to West and providing him with housing in a corporate furnished apartment. Pearl couldn’t have been prouder, but her pride didn’t last long. Days later she was gone.
That summer, my husband and I flew out to Google to see what all the hoopla was about. We ate in a few of the dining facilities and had a barista whip up cappuccino to our specifications. Our son’s apartment was smartly appointed. We were sitting by the pool in the inner courtyard of the complex, under the shade of a lovely cabana, when the news came over the radio. Eydie Gorme had died. This news stirred up my emotions and moved me to tears. Her voice reminded me of my mother, and I was still a bit raw from the loss of my parent. My mother, you see, was a big Eydie fan and when Pearl sang you could hear Eydie’s influence.
In Eydie Gorme’s obituary in the New York Times on August 11, 2013 less than a week shy of her 85th birthday, they reported, “Edith Gormezano was born on Aug. 16, 1928, in the Bronx. Her father [Nessim Garmezano], a tailor, was from Sicily and her mother from Turkey, but both were Sephardic Jews and spoke Ladino, a language derived from Old Spanish, at home.” No doubt, that is why Eydie had such facility with the Spanish songs she chose to sing, like Besame Mucho.
Pay close attention at 2:18 when she swings from Spanish into English.
Steve’s father was a cantor. Can you hear the traditional Jewish influence in the opening melody?
Eydie was in a class of her own. Her unique interpretations and sparring with Steve (in songs like Baby It’s Cold Outside), her ability to harmonize or even sing comically off-key, and the 5 octave range of her incredible voice set her apart. But her vocal talent was only part of her ability to move you with a song. She had facial expressions, gestures, dance moves and great timing….head to toe talent! Why wasn’t she as famous as Judy Garland or Ella or Sassy?