Mark Murphy, American jazz vocalist, Died at 83

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Mark Murphy was born on March 14, 1932, and passed away on October 22, 2015.

Mark was an American jazz singer based in New York.

He was known for his use of vocalese and vocal improvisations with both melody and lyrics.

Mark was the recipient of the 1996, 1997, 2000, and 2001 Down Beat magazine readers jazz poll for Best Male Vocalist of the Year and also the recipient of six Grammy award nominations for Best Vocal Jazz Performance.

He wrote original lyrics to the jazz tunes “Stolen Moments” and “Red Clay”.

Born in Syracuse, New York, in 1932, Murphy was raised in a musical family, his parents having met as members of the local Methodist Church choir. He grew up in the nearby small town of Fulton, New York, where his grandmother and then his aunt were the church organists.

Opera was also a presence in the Murphy home.

Mark started piano lessons at the age of seven.

Murphy joined his brother’s jazz dance band as the singer when a teenager, citing influences from Nat “King” Cole, June Christy, Anita O’Day, and Ella Fitzgerald. The Jazz pianist Art Tatum was also an influence.

Mark graduated from Syracuse University in 1953, majoring in Music and Drama.

University life included performing on campus and also in a club – playing piano and singing.

In 1954, Murphy moved to New York City, working part-time as an actor and singer.

Mark appeared in productions for the Gilbert and Sullivan Light Opera Company and a musical version for television by Casey at the Bat. Also, he twice took second place at the Apollo Theatre amateur contests.

Mark died at age 93 in October 2015.

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