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Billy Eckstine

  • American musician
  • Born July 8, 1914
  • Died March 8, 1993

William Clarence Eckstine (July 8, 1914 – March 8, 1993) was an American jazz and pop singer, and a bandleader of the swing era. He was noted for his rich, resonant, almost operatic bass-baritone voice. Eckstine's recording of "I Apologize" (MGM, 1948) was awarded the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999. The New York Times described him as an "influential band leader" whose "suave bass-baritone" and "full-throated, sugary approach to popular songs inspired singers like Joe Williams, Arthur Prysock and Lou Rawls."


I was so enamored with the idea of being in show business so everything was bright to me. I mean, I didn't think of it as being tough and things like that.




Oh, yeah. I know Dizzy. For years he's been my buddy way, way, way back. Dizzy is one of the most astute guys and one of the most learned guys in the world and knows exactly what he's doing musically.




As a matter of fact they'd blacken us down. I guess there's a reason that according to what the Caucasian wanted us to look like. He wanted us to look-if we were Black, then he had his idea of what we look like.




I knew exactly what I was, and there was no hang-up with me. None whatsoever. The fact that the pigment of my skin maybe being lighter brown than other people of my race, maybe some of them, but you know our race has all colors.




You know, times change and the elements change along with it. The elements of success. And my son's very successful. He's doing very well. And I have a younger daughter who sings.




It taught me something. It taught you your craft.




My youngest daughter sings. She's going to be very good. She's graduated from Music School and she's been working down around and getting her feet wet, you know. I had her out with me for a year just showing her the ropes a little bit, but she's going to be all right.




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.




Bud Johnson, God rest his soul of fame, a tenor saxophonist. Bud was always a big, big, big booster of mine and he always when I first met Bud in Pittsburgh when he came through there, he heard me sing and he wanted me to come to Chicago.




I don't have perfect pitch, but I have relative pitch. I'm glad I don't have perfect pitch because perfect pitch can drive you crazy.




I'm used to hearing myself. My own voice.




You can't sing about love unless you know about it.




Today the kids that are out now they make a hit record and they put them right out on the stage with 10,000 people out there and they don't know anything about the business yet.




When you're playing music, say for instance, you're playing a part of the band and you're looking at your music, your horn is down into the stand. This way, it's up and it goes right on out to the audience, you know?




I was still in school at the time and Cab was very popular and everybody was doing Cab Calloway so I did.




L.A. is kind of laid back, but New York, everybody is out there for that buck, you know.




I'm a firm believer and I think my religion is inside.




I just went to Harvard a little while, because I graduated from Armstrong High School in Washington and then I went up there but I didn't stay that long because I went into show business.




When Byrd came out of there, he had written a lot things while he was in the hospital.




It was my band. I organized the band and Dizzy was in the band. Dizzy was the first musical director with the band. Charlie Parker was in the band. But, no, no, that was my band.




Piano should be the one. Yeah, because that's your basis. Everything is right there in front of you.




I think a song that's got something to say. I'm not much on gimmicks. I never have been because they don't last. But I like a song that tells a story and has some meat to it, you know, that means something.



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