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Space Age Music Maker

Anita Darian

Anita Darian has been a serious working singer for nearly 50 years. She first came to popular attention as a featured singer with the short-lived and critically, if not financially, successful Sauter-Finegan band of the mid-1950s. She settled in New York City, where she's worked in everything from opera and classical recitals to television jingles and cartoon voice-overs.

Darian's is a classically-trained voice with a four-octave range, which has enabled her to take on some remarkable jobs over the years. She sang on a number of albums of Broadway musicals, including "The King and I" and "Show Boat" for Columbia Records. She sang and played the kazoo at a performance of Mark Bucci's "Kazoo Concerto" at one of Leonard Bernstein's famous Young Peoples' concerts with the New York Philharmonic, which later earned her a part in the recording of John Corigliano's eccentric take-off, titled "The Naked Carmen," on the original Bizet opera. And hundreds of millions of listeners have heard her demonstrate her vocal range without knowing it, because she provided the swooping counter-melody behind the tenor lead on the Tokens' #1 hit, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," a cover of a South African song written by Solomon Linda.

She recorded one fairly rare album that fits solidly into Space Age Pop. East of the Sun, recorded in 1960 with Frank Hunter handling the arrangements, is a collection of genuine and ersatz Near/Middle Eastern songs such as "Misirlou" and "Gomen Nasir." It's a treat to hear the rare vocal version of "Misirlou," but I suspect most fans will find the album best sampled a track at a time, since Darian's style is operatic rather than exotic. She obviously had the capacity to go the Yma Sumac route, but she sticks to an approach more heard in recital halls than cocktail lounges.

Darian is still performing, and has recorded works by Ned Rorem and others within the last few years.


  • East of the Sun, Kapp KL-1168/KS-3052
  • with Jaffee Bill and Jim Timmens, Hawaiian Paradise, Fidelio ATL 4120

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