Jimmy Scott – who celebrates his 84th birthday today – is heartbreak personified.
A ballad singer without peer, Scott still has the delicate, ethereal voice of an angel. And despite a lifetime of hard luck and disappoint, he remains almost impossibly optimistic.
“Of course, you’ve got to really love the music,” he says in a soft and gentle voice. “So many singers just do it because there’s a show to be done. No, for me it has a little more value than that. For me, it’s all about good music and what that music is projecting. Is it projecting good or happiness? Is it awakening the soul of a man? That’s what’s important.
“After all these years, my goodness, if I didn’t get anything more out of it than just the glamour, I’d be lost.”
Back in 2003, it looked as though Scott was about to finally get the kind of widespread recognition that he’s deserved for so long. After more than a half century of being admired by his fellow musicians and a small, but rabidly devoted cult following of hipsters, Scott was finally coming into his own.
There was “Jimmy Scott: If You Only Knew,” a documentary feature film directed by Matthew Buzzell. There was his gorgeous “But Beautiful” CD of jazz standards, released on Milestone Records. And there was “Faith in Time: The Life of Jimmy Scott,” an insightful biography written by David Ritz.