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Gloria Lynne Dies: Jazz Vocalist Sang 'I Wish You Love' (Audio)

Image: Gloria Lynne Dies: Jazz Vocalist Sang 'I Wish You Love' (Audio)

Monday, 21 Oct 2013 10:42 AM

Jazz vocalist Gloria Lynne, best known for her signature song "I Wish You Love," died of a heart attack last week in New Jersey. She was 83.

P.J. Allen, Lynne's only son, told CNN that his mother died Oct. 15 at Columbus Long-Term Acute Care Hospital in Newark.

Born in New York City in 1929 and raised in Harlem, Lynne began singing with her church choir as a young girl. When she was 15, she snuck out of the house and lied about her age to compete in the amateur-night show at the Apollo Theater, Allen told the New York Times. She won, but her mother later took a portion of her $15 prize money as punishment.

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Lynne was signed to Everest Records soon after and later got her big break when she appeared on Harry Belafonte's television special "The Strolling '20s" in 1966.

But her records were never big sellers and the disco wave of the 1970s overshadowed her. At times, she was forced to work odd jobs in order to supplement her income.

"The crash for me was when disco came in," she told the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1994, according to the Washington Post. "Disco seemed to have taken over the whole era in the '70s, and singers like myself were put in the background. I just wasn’t able to change over."

Still, she kept singing.

"It was my way of getting music out of me onto the public," she said in 2009 during an interview for the Apollo Theater and Columbia Center for Oral History Collection. "Other than that, I wouldn't have anything. If I had stopped and said, 'Well, no, they're not paying me. I'm not going to do any—' I couldn't do that. I couldn't throw away what gift I had because of the money. So God gave me another way. I worked for Bank of America, I did temp work, anything I could do."

Lynne last performed in August at 54 Below in New York.

"She was really a giant of American jazz singing, but she never really got the recognition she so richly deserved, and lived the last 20 or 30 years of her life in relative obscurity," Todd Barkan, who produced her last show, told CNN. "It's a brutal business and Gloria was a victim of that brutality, for sure. But she was one of our greatest singers, she was a true angel, no doubt about it."

Besides her son, Lynne is survived by a brother, John Wilson.

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