Betty Carter, 69, jazz vocalistBetty Carter, a...


September 29, 1998

Betty Carter, 69, jazz vocalist

Betty Carter, a Grammy-winning singer who worked with Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie and was known as the godmother of jazz for nurturing young musical talent, died Saturday in New York of pancreatic cancer. She was 69.

Ms. Carter won a best female jazz vocalist Grammy award in 1988. President Clinton gave her a National Medal of Arts award last year.

Her improvisational style, which included scat-singing and bouncing syncopations, helped catapult her 1960 duet with Ray Charles, "Baby It's Cold Outside," to a jazz classic.

Ms. Carter also was known as a nurturing but demanding godmother to successive jazz musicians, including pianists John Hicks and Mulgrew Miller, bassists Buster Williams and Dave Holland, and drummers Jack DeJohnette and Lewis Nash.

Ms. Carter grew up in Detroit, where she studied at the Detroit Conservatory of Music. When she was 16, she was singing in jazz clubs with Mr. Parker, Mr. Gillespie, Miles Davis and Max Roach. She started singing professionally with Lionel Hampton's orchestra at age 18.

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