Was Pearl Bailey a "Tower of Strength?"
She was, as they say, a force to be reckoned with, "tall, buxom, exuberant and handsome." That's the New York Times description. Plus this: "Her voice had a distinctively warm timbre and her natural vocal inflection was filled with fascinating colors and highlights."
Of black and Creek Indian ancestry, we belatedly honor her birthday, March 29, 1918. She was married to white jazz drummer Louis Bellson (aka Luigi Balassoni) for 38 years. He fan base included jazz buffs, sophisticates, Broadway gays (she was in the pioneering all-Black production of "Hello Dolly") and Presidents, including Nixon and Johnson. In the 50's, she was known for her risque humor in nightclubs; her song introductions were sometimes bawdy, and "Pearlie Mae" was also known to song a provocative tune, too. "I call myself a humorist. I tell stories to music and, thank God, in tune. I laugh at people who call me an actress."
"Tower of Strength" is usually sung by male singers, with abject humiliation or angst-ridden despair. The original by Gene McDaniels had a trombone mocking his grief and pain. Paul Raven offered one of the more effeminate cover versions. At least, he sang it with full knowledge that he was a wimp who couldn't leave the bitch that was in control of his life. The song doesn't quite work so well as a female vocal, because Bacharach's melody is so upbeat and loaded with syncopated bumps. It's not one of those "I'm a Fool to Want You" jazz ballads. So Pearl just plays with the jazz aspect and doesn't really emote the lyrics. She cools things down.
And if you'd like to hear other versions...go right ahead down the line of downloads.
Pearl Bailey Tower of Strength Instant download or listen on line.
TOWER OF STRENGTH Gerd Bottcher- CAROLIN CAROLIN
TOWER OF STRENGTH Frankie Vaughan
TOWER OF STRENGTH - GENE MCDANIEL
TOWER OF STRENGTH - PAUL RAVEN
TOWER OF STRENGTH - PAUL RICH
TOWER OF STRENGTH - Sue Richards
TOWER OF STRENGTH cute recent Asian version by Yeongene
YOU DON"T HAVE TO BE A TOWER OF STRENGTH - GLORIA LYNNE
TOUTE MA VIE (Tower of Strength) Audrey Arno
TOWER OF STRENGTH -Lew Davis
TOWER OF STRENGTH - DO IT YOURSELF via KARAOKE VERSION!
Download or listen on line. No pop-ups, porn ads or use of sleazy companies that pay a percentage to bloggers for their "hard work." The hard work was done not by upping files, but by the original writers and performers.