June Christy, known to Big Band Era and jazz fans as that "misty Miss Christy" for her interpretation of ballads during her years with the Stan Kenton Orchestra, has died at age 64.
The singer, also called the "grande dame of modern jazz singing," died Thursday from complications of kidney failure at her Sherman Oaks home, the Los Angeles Times reported in Saturday's editions.
Christy, who became famous in the 1940s singing with Kenton's orchestra, stopped performing five years ago because of her illness, said her husband, Bob Cooper, who played tenor saxophone in the group.
In 1945, her career was made when she recorded "Tampico" with the orchestra. She was named "best female vocalist with a big band" by Down Beat magazine four years straight.
During a prolific career, Christy toured the United States, Europe and Australia with the Kenton orchestra. On her own, she recorded more than 20 albums, including "Something Cool."
Los Angeles Times jazz critic Leonard Feather dubbed her the "grande dame," writing that "to the extent that the term connotes professional prestige, it certainly applies."
Christy, an Illinois native who began her career at 19, was praised by critics for her distinctive vocal styling, influenced by Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington.
"Her breathy, husky sound and narrow vibrato," the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz noted, "were ideally suited to the cool jazz of the 1950s."
Christy married Cooper in 1947, two years after she joined the big band.