DIVA TALK: A Dozen Must-Have Female Vocal Recordings

By Andrew Gans
19 Jul 2013

Cover art

Nancy Lamott
"Just in Time for Christmas"

The late Nancy LaMott was blessed with one of, if not the, most beautiful voices in the cabaret world, a rich, lush, honey-toned sound that could be soft, sweet and creamy one minute and big and belty the next. She also possessed a remarkable ability to find the emotional center of any song, bringing a lyric to life as honestly as possible. I really can't say enough about the genius of her singing: Listen to the way she embodies Stephen Sondheim's "Not a Day Goes By" (in a thrilling medley with "Good Thing Going") on her "My Foolish Heart" CD. As she reaches the climax of the song, fully belting "Not a blessed day," she quickly changes into a softer head tone on the word "day," and the effect is beguiling. In fact, LaMott always played her voice like an instrument; however, she didn't engage in vocal pyrotechnics — she simply delivered a song in the most heartfelt fashion. Choosing a favorite of her solo recordings was almost as difficult as choosing the 12 discs listed here, but since this list didn't have any holiday recordings, I ended up picking LaMott's "Just in Time for Christmas." The title track, which may be my favorite Christmas song, is reason enough to add this recording to your collection, but LaMott also delivers beautiful renditions of "Some Children See Him," "I'll Be Home for Christmas," "A Child Is Born," "A Song for Christmas" and "The Christmas Song." One of my other favorites is an upbeat medley of "I Saw Three Ships" and "Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella."