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Keely Smith

Keely Smith is mostly known as the duet partner of Louis Prima, she took the straighter role in their raucous, just-this-side-of-parodical blends of jazz, jump blues, and Italian pop, on record and in their Vegas-oriented shows. Smith, however, was also a reasonably talented singer of straight pop material, although not in the same class as the leading female vocalists of the 1950s. Her most respected solo recordings are her earliest Prima-less outings, made for Capitol in the late '50s with orchestral direction by Nelson Riddle and Billy May.

Smith was only 15 when she first saw Prima perform in New York City. The following summer, Prima played her hometown of Norfolk, VA, at the same time he was looking for a new female singer. Smith won the job on a more or less spur-of-the-moment audition, and recorded her first duets with Prima in 1949. Eventually they became romantically involved as well, marrying in 1953, and recording throughout the '50s, though they had their greatest success as one of Las Vegas' most successful stage acts.

When the singers were signed to Capitol, Prima stipulated that Smith get her own recording deal. Her subsequent Capitol albums were accomplished readings of popular standards, sometimes swinging mildly, although Smith seemed more comfortable with ballads. She and Prima left Capitol for Dot at the end of the '50s, and in 1961 she divorced him on grounds of extreme mental cruelty.

Smith would devote more time to her family as the '60s progressed, but she continued recording as a solo act. She made an entire album of Beatles songs (presumably not aimed toward the audience that bought actual Beatles records), and even had a Top 20 British hit in 1965 with "You're Breakin' My Heart." She made a comeback album in 1985 on Fantasy with I'm in Love Again, which featured accompaniment from top West Coast jazzmen Bud Shank and Bill Perkins. ~ Richie Unterberger
full bio

Selected Discography


Track List: The Intimate Keely Smith (Expanded Edition)

1. Somebody Loves Me

2. As Long As He Needs Me

3. Blame It On My Youth

4. He Needs Me

5. Sinner Or Saint

6. It Had To Be You

7. Time After Time

8. Nancy/You Are My Sunshine

9. God Bless The Child

10. You'll Never Know

11. The Whippoorwill

12. Twin Soliloquies (Wonder How It Feels) (Feat. Frank Sinatra)

13. No One Ever Tells You


Track List: The Essential Capitol Collection

1. All The Things You Are

2. It's Been A Long, Long, Time

3. That Old Black Magic

4. Stormy Weather (Keeps Rainin' All The Time)

5. You Go To My Head

6. S'posin

7. Fools Rush In

8. The Song Is You

9. How Are Ya' Fixed For Love?

10. The Birth Of The Blues

11. I Wish You Love

12. Someone To Watch Over Me

13. The Man I Love

14. Autumn Leaves

15. What Is This Thing Called Love?

16. On The Sunny Side Of The Street

17. Nothing's Too Good For My Baby

18. I Can't Get Started

19. There Will Never Be Another You

20. Imagination

21. The Whippoorwill

22. Nothing In Common

23. When Your Lover Has Gone

24. All The Way

25. Stardust

26. Don't Take Your Love From Me

27. When Day Is Gone (Bonus Track)


Track List: Vegas '58 - Today (Live)

1. Opener: I Wish You Love (Instrumental) (Live)

2. When You're Smiling / The Sheik Of Araby (Live)

3. I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues (Live)

4. Talk (Live)

5. Basin Street Blues / When It's Sleepy Time Down South (Medley) (Live)

6. Talk (Live)

7. More Than You Know (Live)

8. Lazy River (Live)

9. Talk (Live)

10. Don't Take Your Love From Me (Live)

11. Jump, Jive And Wail! (Live)

12. Sweet And Lovely (Live)

13. Buona Sera (Live)

14. Angelina / Che La Luna / Zooma Zooma (Medley) (Live)

15. Talk (Live)

16. Just A Gigolo / I Ain't Got Nobody (Live)

17. I Wish You Love / That Old Black Magic (Medley) (Live)

18. Introductions (Live)

19. What Kind Of Fool Am I? (Live)

20. Closer: I Wish You Love (Instrumental) (Live)


Track List: I Wish You Love

1. I Wish You Love

2. You Go To My Head

3. When Your Lover Has Gone

4. I Understand

5. Fools Rush In

6. Don't Take Your Love From Me

8. Imagination

9. If We Never Meet Again

10. Mr. Wonderful

11. When Day Is Done


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Great singer!
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Jbp It is a shame no one mentions her American Indian heritage..Lo v e l y ballad singer, but NOT a jazz singer ala Ella, Anita O Day, June Christy,Sara h Vaughn,etc. Prima strongly influenced her career by jump starting it...
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kevinlouisba r t o n
reasonably talented singer? who wrote this?! obviously a mediocre biographer.
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kelley is hot great and wish her thebests
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My neighbor is a professional musician and he loves Keely Smith's singing, as do I. She's way above average and very professional . Sinatra loved her interpretati o n of a song - and he's the master.
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I've got to agree with toddzan..... . s h e had a crisp, clean sound that really stood out to me.
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Reasonably talented singer?? What? It just doesn't get any better than her voice. Being one of Frank's favorites says it all; now there's a review. Sheesh.
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what's with the tepid review for this INCREDIBLE SINGER?? My God, this is Keely Smith, not some wanna-be. This critic ain't got no ears
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I agree that her review here stinks. Her voice was very under rated.
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Critic just being so in but really so out'- Keely's voce much better than most Female Singers of last 50 years or so-she sings songs she likes, sticks closely to music and words as Song Writers wrote. - Keely's singing was an huge hit with The Chairman Of The Board=Frank Sinatra. -
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Reasonably talented? and not in the same class? Who wrote that bio, this woman is fantastic! Underrated and under appreciated, if anything! Listen to her recording of Sweet and one could have sung it like Keely!
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Keely Smith was in insider, a performer's performer. Your critic is off by miles. I have a background from which I have learned from the horses mouth, having gone to high school in LV , and having a father in the music business. In fact, Dad's name was on the marque in front of the DI Resort for six years presenting and playing with different groups of his own. I dated Keely's brother, Buster. and I know Keely's talent was anything but shallow. Your critic offends me.
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Always one of Frank's favorites!
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How about Viclkie Carr???
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I fell in love with keeley'svoic e when I first heard her. I hated her having to sing because louie knew he was outclasses and it showed. Just think how much farther she would have gone if Louie hadn't been around . She is one of my top singers.
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I listened to Keely Smith in Las Vegas a few years ago and could not believe my eyes. I was a fan in the 1950s and still am. She had a beautiful voice with emotion and romance.
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Just watched her in Thunder Road and that brought back a memory from 50 years ago when my mother had a tantrum over my dad mooning over a Keely Smith album
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Keely much more talented and popular than this Reporter states-beaut f u l voice and very good comediene- saw her in Vegas-Great Stuff
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love keely & louie together.... . s o much fun with lotsa class.
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hauntingly beautiful voice and very romantic.
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She made it look so easy a perry como in disguise i think louie was jealous thats why he sang louder than her she had such class
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sometimes her voice sounds a little pinched when she reaches for a higher note. But nobody's perfect and I guess that's part of what makes her such a wonderful singer: great sound, inflections, phrasing, you name it.
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Her voice is stunning, as is the inaccuracy of her bio...
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Keeley made the show in Vegas work. She brought that intangible magic that few possessed. Just look at Louie's show and life after she left. Sony and Cher who tried to copy Louie and Keeley, just could not do it. Keeley Smith is just a great artist with a song. The bio is just not totally correct and I consider myself very fortunate to have seen her both early in her career and later when her single records were most popular. What a talent.
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I don't know who wrote this bio on Keeley, saying she wasn't in the same class of those in the 50's basically has his head up his stink canal,....I would say Keely and Edie Gormet were of the best in the 50's,....
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Loved seeing you in Vegas gal, think you were one of the great ones - hope you are well.
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Keely Smith is one of the greatest singers of all time - I don't agree with the review at all. She had great chops and was really versatile and swinging. She still sounds great today, too!
Report as inappropriate wife and loved to see you in Atlantic City. Thank you for taking so many photos with us. She is in Heaven now, but you will always be a friend. God Bless You.
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Love her voice. She was pretty hot too.
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The writer of the bio is one egg short of a dozen.Keely is a prize.
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I just discovered Keely Smith a few months ago and I must say that I am astonished that I had not heard her before. I wish I had years ago when I discovered the joy of jazz, standards and ballads. I rate her right up there with Ella and Rosemary Clooney. Keely, is one the best.
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please have a more than reasonably talented writer re- do Keely's bio and give her the credit that she rightfully deserves!
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seagreendesi g n s l l c
Well put and very very true. I cannot comprehend the author's use of the word. . . in any reasonably terms!!!
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I wish I could say this bio was written "reasonably" well. Alas, I can't. Ms. Smith is still considered one of the foremost singers of her time by her own counterparts . If you ever had the opportunity to see her perform, the adverb "reasonably" would surely be replaced with the respect she deserves. Here's to the magnificent Ms. Smith.
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Keely Smith has been one of my favorite female vocalists since who knows when...she and Ella and the divine Peggy Lee. They don't make 'em like that anymore, and it's a pity. Give me the oldies any day.
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Obviously, whoever wrote this blurb is not a fan of Keely Smith. She's a wonderfully talented singer, with a beautiful, true voice, and great song interpretati o n .
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A great great Artist, not many left with class.
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Keely was great with Louie and wonderful with the great standard ballads.
John Stephens
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It is a shame to call Keely Smith "reasonably talanted singer". She is one of the best!!!
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I admit Ella Fitzgerald as a Queen of jazz and Keely Smith as a Princess. She is not just resonably talanted. Fantastic, brilliant voice and unique wonderful taste to music she performs.
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most underrated female singer of our time. I believe Louis Prima unintensiona l l y over shadowed her. Beautiful lady with a golden voice.
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I love her voice of an angel and miss hearing her!
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I first saw Keely Smith in Vegas in 1959 with louis Prima & sam Butera and without a doubt the best live group ever saw. they were in the lounge at the Sahara. Been in love ever since, One beautiful lady with a beautiful voice.
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I agree with the previous commentators . Keeley Smith certainly was much more than "reasonably talented". I do think that she rates up there with the other female vocalists of her time-frame.
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Reasonably talented - PLEASE! She is one of the great voices of her time, and still going strong. Saw her about 5 years ago and she is still fantastic!
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We grew up together in the Norview area of Norfolk ,Va. One of the most talented singers in her time.
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great singer, at the top of her class
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I totally agree with the statement left by Mary Carr - this gal was one of the best singers and is totally underated. She is one of my favorites!
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I second mary karr's comment and I will add that she was a great singer of ballads as well. Like the above reviewer from All Music Guide, Louis Prima never appreciated her. After she left Louis Prima to go on her own is when she had her biggest successes. Her version of "I Wish You Love" is one of the top ballads of the 20th century.
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Oh my goodness! This lady can sing! I mean,...this lady can really sing.!! k e . . . s i n g sing!

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