"There is no more beautiful musical instrument than the voice of Nancy LaMott"
– Bob Harrington, New York Post
"She was the greatest cabaret singer since Sinatra"
– Jonathan Schwartz, NPR
Nancy came from the Midwestern town of Midland, Michigan and grew up singing with her father's band and dreaming of a great career as a singer. In her late teens, Nancy developed Crohn's disease, causing her to be hospitalized and desperately ill. Yet she never lost sight of her desire to leave Midland to pursue her dream, so at the age of 19, she and her brother Brett, who was her drummer, headed out to San Francisco.
Nancy soon became one of the most sought-after cabaret singers in San Francisco, but her illness continued and she found herself alternating between singing triumphs and hospital stays. Yet her singing triumphed, and soon she realized she had conquered San Francisco and needed to head for New York. The pattern that had occurred in San Francisco reoccurred in New York. Nancy quickly became known in the small circle of the cabaret world as one of the great singers of her time, but her momentum toward success was always interrupted by illness, surgery and the resulting lack of funds.
People were captivated not only by Nancy?s talent, but by her simple goodness and beauty of spirit, and she made many good friends, including David Zippel, Mark Sendroff, Bill McGrath and Bob Baker, who were there for her triumphs and helped her through the bad times. Still, somehow she remained New York cabaret’s best kept secret.
In 1989 she met composer/conductor David Friedman, who felt she should be making records, and offered to produce them himself. When the first record, Beautiful Baby was completed, Nancy walked into HMV Records and said, ‘Hi, I made this. Would you sell it?’ HMV took 8 copies on the spot and decided to play it in the store, not realizing that to hear Nancy was to buy Nancy. When the second album was released HMV’s opening order was 250 copies, and the record went into the top 10 in the store! Nancy’s popularity began to spread to a wider circle and she began breaking attendance records at some the most prestigious clubs in New York including the Chestnut Room at Tavern on the Green and the world famous Oak Room at the Algonquin. A close-knit team developed around her, which included her pianist/arranger Chris Marlowe, director Scott Barnes, and some of New York’s finest musicians and designers, which became known around town as Team LaMott.
Nancy toured extensively, was discovered by WQEW disc jockey Jonathan Schwartz which led to her being played on 1000 national radio stations and appeared on numerous television shows including Live With Regis & Kathie Lee. Kathie Lee Gifford became a huge fan and played an enormous part in promoting Nancy nationally and also in personally supporting her toward the end of her life. That year Nancy also sang at the White House twice, and became a favorite of the Clintons.
All seemed to be going wonderfully, until March of 1995, when Nancy was diagnosed with Uterine Cancer. A race with the clock now began, and everything in Nancy’s life accelerated. Nancy chose to do hormone therapy as opposed to surgery so that she could complete the greatest album of her career, Listen To My Heart, with a full orchestra orchestrated by the legendary Peter Matz. Just after her diagnosis, Nancy was in San Francisco doing an AIDS benefit when she was introduced to actor Pete Zapp. They quickly fell in love and began a bicoastal romance. In July, Nancy was told that the hormone therapy had not worked and that she needed to have a hysterectomy. She postponed it one month so that she could play the Algonquin one more time. As soon as that engagement was over, Nancy had the surgery and was told that the cancer had spread and that she would need chemotherapy. During this period, Nancy kept performing, doing a sold out week at Tavern on the Green, and even fulfilling concert dates around the country. Then she would have a chemo treatment and spend a week at Kathie and Frank Gifford’s home in Connecticut recovering. The chemo and the disease began to take their toll, and just a few days after her last performances, an appearance on "Charles Grodin" and her regular annual visit to WQEW’s on-air Christmas Party, Nancy was rushed to the hospital and her shocked friends and family were told that she had just a couple of days to live. Peter Zapp and her family and friends rushed to her side. That night, President and Mrs. Clinton phoned her in the hospital to wish her well. Kathie Lee Gifford kept the country informed of her condition. David Friedman promised her that the whole world would hear her sing. And in the last hour of her life, Father Stephen Harris performed a bedside wedding ceremony for Nancy and Peter. Nancy LaMott had it all, if only for 45 minutes. She died with friends and family around her, married for the first time in her life, and knowing she was on her way to worldwide recognition. The outpouring of support and love that followed Kathie Lee’s tearful on-air announcement of Nancy’s death the next morning has grown and grown as people around the world have been discovering the glorious singing of Nancy LaMott. We lost Nancy too early, but her beauty and talent live on through the legacy of her legendary recordings.
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ARRIVING THIS WEEK!
ARRIVING THIS WEEK!
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