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You're Nearer

Written: 1940

Music by: Richard Rodgers

Words by: Lorenz Hart

Written for: Too Many Girls
(movie version only, 1940)

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On the Main Stage at Cafe Songbook

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Carol Sloane


"You're Nearer"

from her 1990 album The Real Thing
with Phil Woods (alto sax and clarinet),
Mike Renzi (arrangements, piano and, on a few tracks, synthesizer),
Rufus Reid (bass), Grady Tate (drums)



More Performances of "You're Nearer"
in the Cafe Songbook Record/Video Cabinet
(Video credit)


Cafe Songbook Reading Room

"You're Nearer"

Critics Corner || Lyrics Lounge

About Too Many Girls, the Show and the Movie / Origins of the Song

Other songs written for the Broadway show Too Many Girls currently included in the Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook: I Didn't Know What Time It Was.


For a complete listing of songs used in the original production of the Broadway show, see IBDB song list.


One song included in the Cafe Songbook Catalog of The Great American Songbook was written for the 1940 movie Too Many Girls: You're Nearer


For a complete listing of songs used in the movie, see IMDB Soundtrack.



Product Details
Too Many Girls (the movie)
at Amazon

There was some carry over of personnel from the Broadway show Too Many Girls (1939) to its namesake Hollywood offshoot, including director George Abbott; however, Richard Carlson, Lucille Ball, Ann Miller and others actors from Hollywood replaced their Broadway counterparts in the cast. It was Lucy replacing Marcy Westcott that led to her meeting Desi Arnaz (who had played the part of a bongo playing college fullback on Broadway) on the movie set, an accident of fate that affected show business history way more than the show and the film combined.

*Lucile Ball and Desi Arnaz were married on November 30, 1940, a week after the picture Too Many Girls was released. Out of that connection came a sea change in American popular entertainment: I Love Lucy and Desilu Productions, the former the most important sitcom of early TV, the latter one of its most important production companies.



About the Show

Rah-rah college musicals were the fashion on Broadway in the late thirties and Too Many Girls was one of them. The show starred Marcy Wescott, Richard Kollmar, Desi Arnaz, and Eddie Bracken and was directed by George Abbott. Pottowatomie College in Stopgap, NM, is the setting where Wescott's character, Connie, is a wealthy but ditsy coed whose father is a rich Pottowatomie grad. When Connie decides to attend, it's not, however, because her father went there so much as the fact that her latest heart throb, an older, sophisticated British novelist, lives nearby. She wants to say to him, "You're Nearer," though the song with that title was not included in the Broadway production. Her father is pleased with her choice of college but suspicious of her motives and decides to hire four Ivy League football stars to secretly accompany her to protect his daughter as well as his interests. The bodyguards apparently enroll in the college because they join the football team improving it beyond anything Pottowatomie has ever known. Hence the following sequence of events takes place: The team becomes terrific; one of the bodyguards (Clint Kelley/Richard Kollmar) falls for Connie and she for him until she discovers he's working for her father; the bodyguards leave the team; the team is no longer terrific; the bodyguards return to the team, and, not surprisingly, everything works out.

"Love Never Went to College" is one of the lesser known but nevertheless brilliant Rodgers and Hart songs from Too Many Girls (1939) where it was sung on Broadway by Marcy Westcott and Richard Kollmar and in the 1940 movie by Frances Langford. Here it is performed by Frederica Von Stade

Frederica Von Stade sings "Love Never Went to College"
accompanied by the London Symphony, 1993

Amazon iTunes

The song "You're Nearer" is not even in the Broadway show having been written later (in October, 1940) specifically for the movie version of Too Many Girls. "You're Nearer" did, however, appear in a stage production of Too Many Girls when it replaced the song "My Prince" in the post Broadway touring company. It was sung in the touring company by Anne Francine and Marie Nash.

About the Movie

By the time Too Many Girls reached the screen in 1940, Lucille Ball had replaced Marcy Wescott, Richard Carlson had come in for Richard Kollmar, Anne Miller was added to the cast as Pepe the dancing Latina, and Van Johnson, very early in his Hollywood career, was a featured member of the chorus. Desi continued to play Manuelito, one of the Ivy League bodyguards, who, although he's from Argentina, is, without explanation, an all American caliber halfback and bongo player. Another change is, as mentioned above, the addition of the song "You're Nearer" (newly written by Rodgers and Hart) and added to the score for the film, where it is sung by Trudy Erwin dubbing Lucille Ball. The movie is only memorable because it was on its set that Lucy first met Desi* and, of course, for the Rodgers and Hart songs, especially the two songs that became standards: "You're Nearer" and "I Didn't Know What Time It Was."

From the 1940 movie "Too Many Girls," Lucille Ball,
dubbed by Trudy Erwin, performs "You're Nearer" --
with clips of the real life Lucy/Desi romance spliced in. (The couple met
on the set for the film and married one month after it opened.)

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Critics Corner

Book Cover: Richard Rodgers by Geoffrey Block
Geoffrey Block,
Richard Rodgers,
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003


Geoffrey Block, Ed. The Richard Rodgers Reader. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.


Geoffrey Block makes several significant points about the movie Too Many Girls for which "You're Nearer" was written:

It was unfortunate that the once popular film was for the most part invisible before its release on video-cassette in 2001, since it offered the most faithful contemporary example of a Rodgers and Hart score, with seven songs retained from the show and a new gem, "You're Nearer" expressly written for the new medium (Block, pp. 87-88).

He adds, in his Richard Rodgers Reader, that Too Many Girls the movie "was closer to a photographed play than a film adaptation" with more of the songs from the show retained than in any other movie based on a Rodgers and Hart show (pp. 75-76).

He also notes that despite Rodgers and Hart adding this "new gem" ("You're Nearer") to the score, the offensive titles of songs carried over from Broadway like "Spic and Spanish" and (referring to Manhattan) "Give It Back to the Indians" doomed the movie for later generation audiences -- this despite the presence of wonderful songs like "Love Never Went to College" (Listen above), "I Like to Recognize the Tune," and "I Didn't Know What Time It was."

Mel Tormé with The Marty Paich Dek-Tette (1956)
perform "I Like to Recognize the Tune"
by Rodgers and Hart from their 1939 show Too Many Girls.

Amazon iTunes

Dorothy Hart, Ed.
Thou Swell Thou Witty The life and Lyrics of Lorenz Hart, New York: Harper and Row, 1976. (a compilation of Hart's lyrics and of first hand accounts of Hart from those who knew him).

Lorenz Hart's sister Dorothy Hart in her memoir of her brother concisely states, "'Too Many Girls' was a fun, happy show, rather than a distinguished one." One of the reasons for the "fun, happy" quality was the debut of Desi Arnaz on Broadway. She goes on to note that she had had always thought of her brother Larry as "the good-luck charm in the Desi Arnaz-Lucille Ball super-romance" and, she continues, "Larry informed me once that he was to stand up for Lucy and Desi at their marriage (which took place in Connecticut one week after the movie opened. But, years later, Lucy told me that Larry never showed up. It seems the ceremony was too early for him, and he didn't get up in time" (p. 142). Before the show Too Many Girls was cast, Desi was "a regular" at the Harts', who were very social people, and after Desi achieved fame and fortune neither he nor his mother ever forgot that the Harts were instrumental in getting him his start.

Note: Lucy's character's love interest in the movie was not Desi's character; rather she was paired with Richard Carlson.

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Lyrics Lounge

The authoritative lyric for
"You're Nearer"
can be found in

Dorothy Hart and
Robert Kimball (Eds.),
The Complete Lyrics
of Lorenz Hart
New York: Knoph, 1986;
Da Capo Press expanded, paper bound, edition 1995.

Click here to read the lyrics for "You're Nearer" including the the verse.

Listen to Corey Saunders sing the lyric (with verse) as written:

Corey Saunders sings "You're Nearer,
including the verse, at The Vermont, Los Angeles, c. 2010

Other tracks featured on this page that include the verse: Mabel Mercer; Annie Ross; Dena DeRose.

Click here to read Cafe Songbook lyrics policy.

list song
(click above for definition from the
Cafe Songbook Glossary.

A "list song" is a song whose overriding impression is created by a lyric that is mostly a list of examples supporting the major premise of the song. For example Cole Porter's "You're the Top" supports its title's claim that the "you" of the song is the best (top) by comparing it to a list of other bests in their respective categories: "You're the top! / You're the Coliseum. / You're the top! / You're the Louvre Museum" --ad infinitum.

In "You're Nearer," the list is of two items that are very, very near to each other in order to illustrate the closeness of the singer to his or her beloved: Metaphorical nearness is crucial in the case of the singer and his loved one because, as the singer states in the verse, "The miles lie between us, / But your fingers touch my own /You're never far away from me / For you're too much my own." How close is he/she? Hyperbole serves to make the point: "Nearer / than my head is to my pillow / Nearer / than the wind is to the willow. . . . / Nearer than the Ivy to the wall is. / Nearer / than winter to the fall is."

The list is not too long but clearly the spaces between the items that are near to each other are essentially non-existent, suggesting that two beings that are in themselves very different from one another compensate for their differences through their closeness. It's a simple, lovely idea that Hart has executed beautifully. The cause of their closeness is how much he/she loves her/him.

You're nearer,
For I love you so.

book cover: Gary Marmorstein "A Ship without a Sail: The Life of Lorenz Hart"
Gary Marmorstein
A Ship Without A Sail:
The Life of Lorenz Hart
New York: Simon and Schuster,

In Gary Marmorstein's comments on "Your Nearer," he makes the point that of the various additions that distinguish the film Too Many Girls from the show (of the same title) on which it is based, "the most important change was the addition of Rodgers and Hart's "You're Nearer."

"You're Nearer," sings Trudy Erwin (dubbing Lucille Ball) to a faraway former boyfriend,

Than my head is to my pillow,
Than the Wind is to the Willow,
Than the rain is to the earth below,
Precious as the sun is to the things that grow.

The first time its sung [Marmorstein writes] every guy in earshot gets mooney over Consuelo/Connie. Later when Consuelo and Carlson are on the outs, each reprises the song alone.

Marmorstein's point is the lyric works so well because "the love object is nowhere nearby; its metaphoric intimacy is conveyed by images of only a few inseparable pairs and must have influenced Dorothy Fields when she was writing the lyric for, 'Close as Pages in a Book'" for the 1945 Broadway show Up in Central Park.

(Also see the video above, a pastiche of the scene from Too Many Girls in which Ball, dubbed by Erwin, performs "You're Nearer") combined with snap shots of the real-life Lucy/Desi romance.)

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("You're Nearer" page)


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The Cafe Songbook
Record/Video Cabinet:
Selected Recordings of

"You're Nearer"

(All Record/Video Cabinet entries below
include a music-video
of this page's featured song.
The year given is for when the studio
track was originally laid down
or when the live performance was given.)
Performer/Recording Index
(*indicates accompanying music-video)

Mabel Mercer
album: Merely Marvelous

Amazon iTunes

Notes: Merely Marvelous is available an MP# album from Amazon. There is also a Mercer two twofer including Merely Marvelous and Travelin' Light from 1958 available at CDUniverse.

Personnel: Jimmy Giuffre (tenor & baritone saxophones, clarinet); Bob Brookmeyer (trombone); Jim Hall (guitar).
Originally released on Atlantic (1282). Includes original LP liner notes by Nat Hentoff.
Personnel: Mabel Mercer (vocals); Jimmy Lyon (piano); Jimmy Raney, Joe Puma (guitar); Beverly Peer (bass); Tim Kennedy (drums). Originally released on Atlantic (1322). Includes original LP liner notes by Gary Kramer.
In 1999, Collectables released Trav'lin' Light/Merely Marvelous, which contained two complete albums -- Trav'lin' Light (1958, originally released on Atlantic) and Merely Marvelous (1960, originally released on Atlantic)

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Annie Ross (with Zoot Sims)
album: A Singer - Annie Ross,
A Swinger - Zoot Sims, A Gasser

same track as on album referenced above

Amazon iTunes

Notes: This is part of Blue Note's Collector's Choice series. These are limited-edition pressings of a few thousand copies. iTunes link shows different album with same track.

Most of this CD [Gasser] reissue contains one of singer Annie Ross' finest sessions away from the premiere jazz vocal group Lambert, Hendricks and Ross. She is joined by either Zoot Sims [on 'You're Nearer' and others] or (on two numbers Bill Perkins on tenor, pianist Russ Freeman, Billy Bean or Jim Hall on guitar, bassist Monty Budwig and Mel Lewis or Frankie Capp on drums. Ross' renditions of such tunes as 'I'm Nobody's Baby,' 'Invitation To The Blues,' 'I Didn't Know About You' and 'You Took Advantage Of Me' are highlights. Also on this set are five instrumentals taken from samplers that showcase the talents of Zoot Sims and Russ Freeman. Recommended. ~ Scott Yanow at CDUniverse.com)

Personnel: Annie Ross (vocals); Zoot Sims, Bill Perkins (tenor saxophone); Russ Freeman (piano); Billy Bean, Jim Hall (guitar); Monty Budwig (bass); Frankie Capp, Mel Lewis (drums).

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Judy Garland
album: Judy at Carnegie Hall

Amazon iTunes

Notes: This was first released as a single CD in 1987 with more than half of the original album edited off. Capitol has now restored the full 2-LP set on 2 CDs with some on-stage dialogue that was not included on the original album. Personnel includes: Judy Garland (vocals); Mort Lindsey (conductor). Recorded live at Carnegie Hall, New York, New York on April 23, 1961.

"I will forever be grateful to those remarkable people who, 45 years ago, decided to record what for many of us is still and will always be the greatest event in show business history. Oh and one other person to mention - Judy Garland. It is my personal regret that I didn't appreciate who and what she was at the time (I was 14) because somehow, anyhow, I'd have been there. This concert seems to me to have been the culmination of her life. . . ."
By richardlubbock (London, England.) Originally posted on CDUniverse.com.
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June Christy
album: Intimate Miss Christy

Amazon iTunes

Notes: This CD is a 2006 digital remaster.

"June Christy is usually associated with the booming big-band sound that dominated most of her work with Capitol in the 1950s and '60s, which is ironic given her restrained, casual singing. For this reason, THE INTIMATE MISS CHRISTY is one of the gems in the vocalist's discography. Accompanied only by bassist Don Bagley and guitarist Al Viola, Christy gives up-close-and-personal performances in a setting expertly matched to her style. The warm melancholia of the songs, as heard on 'I Fall In Love Too Easily' and 'I Get Along Without You Very Well,' makes THE INTIMATE MISS CHRISTY a perfect choice for late-night listening."
from CDUniverse.com

Album Personnel: June Christy (vocals); Al Viola (guitar); Bud Shank (flute); Jonah Jones (trumpet); Teddy Brannon (piano); Don Bagley, John Brown (upright bass); George Foster (drums). (Please complete or pause one
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Tony Bennett and Bill Evans
album: Together Again

Amazon iTunes

Notes: 1975's TONY BENNETT/BILL EVANS ALBUM turned out to be such a landmark recording in both artists' careers that a reunion was inevitable. Like their previous collaboration, TOGETHER AGAIN is strictly a duo recording, with only Bennett's unique voice and Evans' artful piano to keep each other company. Again like their previous album, nothing more is required. Evans' elegant, classically-influenced jazz phrasing and Bennett's unparalleled storytelling abilities are more than enough to get these tunes across.

On such selections as Rodgers and Hart's 'You're Nearer' and the classic 'You Don't Know What Love Is,' both men take advantage of the sonic space around them to fully explore the melodic and harmonic potential of the tunes without ever straying from the heart of the songs. On 'A Child Is Born,' Bennett demonstrates his dynamic range by alternating between delicate near-whisper and stately, trumpet-like tones. Evans matches him step for step throughout the album, setting up a fluid, impressionistic backdrop for Bennett's poignant readings.

Personnel: Tony Bennett (vocals); Bill Evans (piano).

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Carol Sloane
album: The Real Thing

for Music-Video,
see Cafe Songbook Main Stage (above)


Notes: Singer Carol Sloane is in excellent voice throughout this 1990 recording. Joined by Phil Woods (on both alto and clarinet), pianist Mike Renzi (who contributed both the arrangements and occasional synthesizers), bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Grady Tate, Sloane mostly sticks to standards, which she manages to make sound quite fresh. Tate interacts with her vocally (and quite winningly) on a medley of "Makin' Whoopee" and "The Glory of Love." Other highlights include "I Can't Believe That You're In Love With Me," "Early Autumn," "Something to Live For" and "I'll Take Romance." One of Carol Sloane's better recordings. ~ Scott Yanow at CDUniverse.com

Album Personnel: Carol Sloane (vocals); Grady Tate (vocals, drums); Phil Woods (clarinet, alto saxophone); Mike Renzi (piano); Rufus Reid (acoustic bass).

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Shirley Horn
(with Strings)
album: Here's to Life

Amazon iTunes

Notes: "Sometimes the most effective backdrop for a spare, "minimalist" singer is a lush orchestral arrangement with strings. The problem is that there aren't too many arrangers left who can write in the old romantic, melodic style. One exception to the rule is composer Johnny Mandel, the man who scored Jimmy Scott's major comeback ALL THE WAY and, most recently, Diana Krall's WHEN I LOOK INTO YOUR EYES. Mandel's greatest triumph, however, is also Shirley Horn's best album, HERE'S TO LIFE, the only one of her many sessions that really captures the flaming romanticism lurking beneath that deceptively economical vocal technique.

"Horn has a wealth of material to work with, gems like Billie Holiday's "How am I to Know?," with lyrics by Dorothy Parker, all dressed up in bossa nova style, and Edith Piaf's anthemic "If You Love Me." There is Mandel's own lovely "A Time for Love," as well as two by the great film composer Dimitri Tiomkin, "Wild is the Wind" and "Return to Paradise." The titles alone conjure up a heady, get-away-from-it-all atmosphere, one that enables Horn to justify her reputation as a major artist." (from CDUniverse.com

Personnel: Shirley Horn (vocals, piano); Wynton Marsalis (trumpet); Charles Ables (bass instrument); Steve Williams (drums); Johnny Mandel (arranger and conductor).
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Bucky Pizzarelli and New York Swing
album: Play Rodgers and Hart

Amazon iTunes

Notes: Personnel: John Bunch (piano), Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar), Jay Leonhart (bass), Joe Cocuzzo (drums) Recorded Clinton Recording Studios, New York New York
City, October 6, 1992.

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2006 (live)
Rufus Wainwright
album: Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall

Amazon iTunes

Notes: "Rufus Wainwright has never been afraid of the extravagant gesture, so in the summer of 2006, the singer-songwriter booked a special engagement at Carnegie Hall, complete with a full orchestra and special guests, for the express purpose of recreating Judy Garland's iconic 1961 comeback album, JUDY AT CARNEGIE HALL, in its entirety. Although in both graphic design and Wainwright's choice of outfits for the concert (as seen on the DVD RUFUS! RUFUS! RUFUS! DOES JUDY! JUDY! JUDY!, available separately), care was taken to evoke the overall look and feel of Garland's original concert, Wainwright smartly avoids trying to sound like Garland. Still, his semi-operatic vocal style is a perfect vehicle for these classic pre-rock Tin Pan Alley and Broadway songs. Guests include sister Martha Wainwright, mother Kate McGarrigle, and on a lovely version of 'After You've Gone,' Garland's youngest daughter Lorna Luft."
from CDUniverse.com

Personnel: Bucky Pizzarelli (guitar); Vincent Della Rocca (saxophone); John Oddo (piano); Richard Sarpola (bass guitar); James Saporito (drums).

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2012 and 1997
Tierney Sutton and Serge Merlaud
album: Paris Sessions


Amazon iTunes


Amazon iTunes

Notes: Previous to the first recording above, Tierney Sutton included "You're Nearer" on her first album Introducing Tierney Sutton released in January, 1998. Rick Anderson in his comments on the album for CDUniverse.com writes, ". . . even if you've heard all these songs a hundred times before, you'll still love this album. Not because she brings anything particularly surprising or revelatory to this repertoire, but because she sheds such a warm, sweet light on the songs that it's a pleasure to hear them again. Sometimes she surprises, as on the voice/bass duet arrangements of 'In Love in Vain' and 'My Heart Stood Still,' which are two of this album's many highlights, or with startling scat excursions where you don't necessarily expect them. Other times she evokes Ella Fitzgerald at her peak, as on her rendition of 'Caravan.' But she never disappoints."
For those who have followed Tierney since 1998, you know that the startling excursions have become more characteristic than the predictable competence described above. Her two renditions of "You're Nearer" prove that she when she is not taking excursions she's as good as anybody and when she is, she's way better than most.
Personnel on this album includes Tierney Sutton (vocals); Buddy Childers (flugelhorn); Christian Jacob, Michael Lang (piano); Trey Henry (bass); Ray Brinker (drums).

Here are the comments of Thom Jurek at CD Universe.com for her 2012 Paris Sessions album that also includes a reading of "You're Nearer.": "One need listen no further than 'You Must Believe in Spring,' the opening track of Tierney Sutton's Paris Sessions, to grasp that something quite special is taking place between the musicians. This collection of standards and originals recorded in duos and trios between the singer, guitarist Serge Merlaud, and bassist Kevin Axt is a bare-bones journey into the depths of musical intimacy. Recorded over two days at Val d'Orge Studio, these 12 tunes are the product of minimal rehearsal on the day before recording. The arrangements, such as they are, are simple, transparent; the considerable depth comes from the well of the song allowing itself to be expressed so nakedly. The aforementioned cut is a duet, with Merlaud's nylon-string acoustic guitar introducing it. When Sutton enters, the emotional frame is already in place; she fills it with commitment and hope derived from earned wisdom, not wishful thinking. It's a striking contrast to the dusky wordless vocals she provides to the guitarist's own tunes, including 'Asma,' where Axt's bass bridges the center as singer and guitarist engage in an ethereal and sensual dialogue. Of the other standards here, 'Beija-Flor' by Nelson Cavaquinho and Noel Silva is introduced by a long wordless duet with the guitar before Axt enters on an acoustic bass guitar and coaxes surprising harmonic nuances from the familiar bossa nova. The other bossa here, Bruno Martino's 'Estate,' is perhaps more conventional in articulation, but Sutton sinks so deeply into the grain of the lyric that she owns its emotional expression. Merlaud uses an electric guitar on 'Body and Soul,' reflecting the multi-harmonic influence of Jim Hall. Sutton draws out the words slowly, purposefully, each syllable infused with a generosity absent of artifice or affect. She's sung this song many times before, but not like this. The resonance in 'Don't Worry "Bout Me" is dialogic. Merlaud's electric guitar doesn't merely comp and fill, but is the other equal voice in a difficult conversation. Axt enters with gorgeous chord voicings providing an equanimity that illustrates the emotional dimension shared between the conversants. Sutton's delivery is even, but far from detached. It affirms the beloved even as a glimpse of romantic pain is betrayed by the ends of her lines. Two of these cuts, 'Don't Go to Strangers' and 'Answer Me, My Love,' will be familiar; they were recorded for and appeared on After Blue, but they fit this context just as well. Paris Sessions is a gem, so elegant, sparse, and intimate in its directness that it is as arresting as it is lovely."
Personnel: Tierney Sutton (vocals); Serge Merlaud (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); Kevin Axt (acoustic bass, bass guitar).

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Dena DeRose
album: We Won't Forget You
An Homage to Shirley Horn

Amazon iTunes

Notes: This is a tribute album to Horn by DeRose with liner notes by the singer. Horn died in 2005 at the age of 71. Her version of "You're Nearer," one of her signature numbers, can be heard above.
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