JazzFest History

Jimmy Scott

Awarded: 2002
Born: Cleveland, Ohio

"He would sing very slowly but very dramatically, which was part of his charm. That's how he was unique."

- Joe Mosbrook


With a voice that has been described as "otherworldly," Jimmy Scott's gift was often silenced by adversity. Nearly 40 years would pass from his first recording to the day that he was able to reestablish his legacy. His high pitched voice, the result of a rare genetic condition coupled with his extraordinary phrasing distinguished him from other singers. Performing since the 1940s, a series of record company disputes forced Scott into obscurity for decades. He left the music business to work in service jobs in Cleveland. In 1991, Scott sang at the funeral of his longtime friend, songwriter Doc Pomus. A music industry executive in attendance practically signed Scott on the spot. His appearance at that funeral led to the Grammy-nominated LP, "All the Way," produced by Tommy LiPuma. Scott's earliest recordings were re-released, he returned to the studio and toured internationally, his voice silenced no more.