Legendary jazz vocalist and Toledo native Jon Hendricks rang in his 91st birthday Wednesday, jiving with a classic performance at the Grand Plaza Hotel.
With unbridled charisma, Hendricks grasped his gold-plated microphone and crooned a selection of jazz standards to the charm of an adoring crowd.
Backed by Jeff McDonald's Swingmania band, he sang, "I love my baby, but she sure don't love my stuff / I see her in the streets, runnin' around. But she'll never get enough."
His expansive and innovative career has earned Hendricks the monikers "Poet Laureate of Jazz" and the "James Joyce of Jive." He is regarded as the "Father of Vocalese," an art form that arranges lyrics to sing the parts of instruments. Hendricks' pastor father moved he and his 14 siblings frequently before settling in Toledo. He grew up just steps from the door of pianist Art Tatum, with whom he regularly performed on the radio.
Toledo City Council honored Hendricks' lifetime of musical achievement, to which he humbly replied, "I don't know how to thank all of you for this wonderful honor." He considered, "Maybe I'll sing something."
Hendricks currently teaches at the University of Toledo where he earned an honorary Doctorate of the Performing Arts and is appointed Distinguished Professor of Jazz Studies. He plans to continue his recording career with projects in Toledo and New York City.
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