TOPEKA —The 4th concert in Topeka Jazz Workshop Inc.’s 44th season will feature singer Marilyn Maye, returning from her October 2010 appearance here but with a different show.
Maye first appeared in the spotlight as a tiny pre-teen vocalist in a series of amateur contests at Topeka’s Jayhawk Theater. Now 84, she has enjoyed an illustrious singing career that is still going strong, exuding the vocal strength and stamina of a singer half her age.
Johnny Carson called her “Super Singer” and she made a record 76 appearances on his “Tonight” show. Ella Fitzgerald dubbed her “the greatest white female singer in the world.” The Houston Chronicle termed her “a National Treasure.”
For a while after rising to notoriety in the 1960s, Maye was almost driven away from the national spotlight by the emergence of rock ‘n’ roll and other competing musical genres.
In 2005 she was invited to perform in New York City for the first time in 16 years. Soon after, she became a New York institution and the darling of the new cabaret crowd. She has become a regular at Michael Feinstein’s Lowe’s Regency.
Maye appears frequently in Kansas City and maintains a home there. Many Topekans remember her from the old days at the Colony Club in Kansas City, where she and one of her three husbands, the late Sammy Tucker, wowed the crowds regularly.