Born Genevieve Hering in Royal, Nebraska, Southern began playing piano at age three, and at age six started formal study in classical piano. She studied classical piano and voice at Sacred Heart in Omaha, Nebraska, where she became interested in jazz.
After beginning her career at the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha, she joined a United States Navy recruiting tour during World War II. In the late 1940s, she worked in Chicago clubs where she once played piano for Anita O’Day. During this period, Southern became known for her singing, particularly for her renditions of torch songs.
She signed with Decca Records in 1951 and became known both for pop and jazz. The 1950s saw her at the height of her career. In 1955 her recording of “An Occasional Man”, reached #89 in the Billboard pop chart. In that decade she sang in a few films and in 1957 she had a Top 30 hit with “Fire Down Below.” The track peaked at #22 in the UK Singles Chart in June 1957. After her switch to Capitol Records, she had success doing interpretations of Cole Porter with Billy May arranging some of the more humorous examples.
In the 1960s she gave up the music industry to teach, and later moved to Hollywood, California to work on film composing with Hugo Friedhofer. She wrote Interpreting Popular Music At The Keyboard during her final years.
Southern died in Los Angeles of pneumonia in 1991, at the age of 64.(by wikipedia)
One mark of a great jazz vocalist is the material she picks. Jeri Southern was one of the great students of jazz-era song, and the material she chose for Southern Breeze is strong in two ways — they’re not only great songs, but they’re great for her. Never blessed with a strong voice, Southern instead realized the artistic advantages those qualities brought, and often chose torch songs or unlucky-in-love songs that accentuated her seeming weaknesses and everywoman qualities. With charts from arranger genius Marty Paich, Southern opens on a high note, the glib “Down with Love.” Yet to come are happy yet forlorn choices “Who Wants to Fall in Love” and “Because He Reminds Me of You” — Southern even finds the catch in “Crazy He Calls Me.” And in true West Coast fashion, the music features brass that swings lightly and a dynamic range that frequently plumbs the depths (including tuba and baritone sax), all possible thanks to Paich’s charts and able musicians including Georgie Auld, Don Fagerquist, and Bob Enevoldsen. Upbeat standards get their chance to shine as well — “Ridin’ High,” “I Like the Likes of You” — but most of Southern Breeze is gloriously melancholy. (by John Bush)
Georgie Auld (saxophone)
Frank Beach (trumpet)
Bud Clark (bass)
Jack Dulong (saxophone)
Bob Enevoldsen (trombone)
Don Fagerquist (trumpet)
Herb Geller (saxophone)
John Kitzmiller (tuba)
Mel Lewis (drums)
Bill Pittman (guitar)
Vince De Rosa (french horn)
Jeri Southern (vocals)
01. Down With Love (Harburg/Arlen) 3.15
02. Crazy He Calls Me (Russell/Sigman) 3.49
03. Lazy Bones (Mercer/Carmichael) 3.08
04. Who Wants To Fall In Love (Howard) 3.18
05. Then I’ll Be Tired Of You (Harburg/Schwartz) 3.50
06. Ridin’ High (Porter) 2.24
07. Because He Reminds Me Of You (Gordon/Revel) 3.16
08. Porgy (Fields/McHugh) 3.37
09. Are These Really Mine (Skylar/Saxon/Cook) 3.43
10. Isn’t This A Lovely Day (Berlin) 3.01
11. Warm Kiss (Robert/Fisher) 2.58
12. I Like The Likes Of You (Harburg/Duke) 2.55