In the years since Marilyn Maye first appeared in the spotlight as a tiny pre-teen vocalist in a series of amateur contests in Topeka, Kansas, she has received an endless stream of kudos. The late Johnny Carson called her "Super Singer." Ella Fitzgerald dubbed her "The greatest white female singer in the world." The Houston Chronicle termed her "A National Treasure." And the prestigious Smithsonian Institution chose her recording of "Too Late Now" (from her RCA Lamp Is Low album) for inclusion in its Best Performers of the Best Compositions of the 20th Century permanent collection, along with such other singing greats as Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland.
Add 76 appearances on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, a Grammy nomination in the mid-Sixties as Best New Artist, a bevy of awards reflecting her showmanship, and you have an illustrious singing career that is still going strong after a life-time spent entertaining audiences who are now amazed to discover she still exudes the vocal strength and stamina of a singer half her age.
Throughout her career, Marilyn has worked with the best talents in the music business, such as the late Peter Matz, who both arranged and conducted her Smithsonian-enshrined album, "The Lamp is Low," the esteemed arranger, Don Costa, as well as Manny Album and Don Sebesky, two other highly-regarded arrangers. She also appeared with Johnny Carson in a number of large venue concerts, sang with the Phoenix Symphony under the baton of Doc Severinsen and, more recently, was the featured singer with both the Philadelphia Pops Orchestra and the Florida Symphony Orchestra at the behest of Peter Nero, who was the pops conductor.
"Marilyn Maye sets the standard for the way any jazz, pop, or big band singer would like to sound," Nero said when introducing Marilyn to the Philadelphia audience. And no one who has ever heard this songbird sing, whether with an orchestra, a trio or just a lone piano, would disagree. She has a command of the stage that can only come from having spent a lifetime of performing live, without the electronically-enhanced recording studio produced gibberish that has become the unfortunate musical standard of the last decade.
As a result of this resurgence in popularity, Marilyn has never been busier. She appeared at the January 15, 2008, Association of Performing Arts Presents convention, where she played to a packed house at the Hilton on Sixth Avenue; and two weeks later accepted the 2008 Critics Nightlife Award as Outstanding Cabaret Vocalist at New York's Town Hall, where she closed the show to a standing ovation. She appeared in a sold-out concert at the Annenberg Theater in Palm Springs, followed by a guest appearance at the Aids Project Los Angeles benefit held at the Wilshire Theater in Beverly Hills and then flew to New York for another warmly-received appearance at The Metropolitan Room. In April, 2008, she was the recipient of Backstage Magazine's Life Time Achievement Award, and in June, 2008, the Kansas Governor's Arts Award Committee honored Marilyn by bestowing their prestigious Distinguished Arts Award on her during a ceremony in Topeka, the state capitol.
Marilyn takes this all in her stride. "I am the overnight success who's been working all of my life," she jokingly told a reporter not long ago. "Seriously," she'd added, "I wish all of this had come 20 years ago; but my timing has always been off. When I started recording it was in the Sixties and rock n roll was the big thing. If I'd been recording in the Forties things might have been different?." She hesitated only a moment, then laughed. "Hmm," she said, "if I'd been old enough to record then I might have been dead by now and I'd have missed all of this!"
And so would all of the audiences who, from coast-to-coast and all points in between, have been wowed by Marilyn's unforgettable performances of today and yesterday. As a reviewer recently penned: Marilyn Maye has "the showmanship and flair of a Broadway diva of the first caliber."