Tina May, who has died of a brain tumour aged 60, was a jazz singer, actress, lyricist and teacher.
As a singer, her repertoire was both wide and personal, made up of songs which, as she explained, she had to “inhabit” before she could sing them. And we the listeners could hear this happening in front of us as she sang, bringing each song to fresh and often surprising life. Along with this came a closeness and warmth that was pure “Tina”.
She was born in Gloucester on March 30 1961 and grew up at Frampton on Severn in a musical family. Both her parents were amateur pianists who also bought records, her father’s favourite being Fats Waller and her mother’s, Frank Sinatra.
Betty Davis - raunchy funk singer and songwriter who had a profound influence on her husband Miles has died aged 77. She was a model-turned-funk singer and muse to Jimi Hendrix and to Miles Davis (whom she married). Her sexually provocative songs and stage persona proved ahead of their time, too hot to handle – both for the commercial powers-that-be of the early 1970s, and for her husband.
When she met the 41-year-old Miles Davis at the Blue Note jazz club in 1967 Betty Mabry was a 22-year-old model with preternaturally long legs, and manager of the Cellar club in New York, where she was part of the late-Sixties counterculture, hanging out with the likes of Andy Warhol, Hendrix and Sly Stone.
Although their marriage lasted only a year her influence on her husband was profound.“His world was progressive jazz, plus he was a lover of classical music, so there were lots of things he hadn’t picked up on,” she told The Observer in 2011. She introduced him to rock and funk, to James Brown, Hendrix and Sly Stone, and her influence became apparent on his 1968 album Filles de Kilimanjaro, a transitional work between his mainly acoustic recordings with the Second Quintet and his later electric jazz-fusion period. The album featured Betty on its sleeve and she inspired the tracks Mademoiselle Mabry and Frelon Brun, both influenced by Hendrix riffs. Davis’s move into fusion angered many of his old followers but won him a new generation of fans, and Bitches Brew (1970) became the biggest-selling jazz album in history. “Miles wanted to call it Witches Brew, but I suggested Bitches Brew and he said, ‘I like that’,” Betty recalled. “Contrary to what some people said, there was nothing derogatory about it.”