At 93, nothing can stop Marilyn Maye


When we first met singer Marilyn Maye back in 2018, she was, hard to believe, at the dawn of her 90s.

It seemed like nothing could stop him. But then COVID happened … and, well, it turns out nothing can Stop her.

“I’m so happy to be outside and singing, you know?” she told correspondent Mo Rocca. “I wasted a very precious year for me. I missed my entire 92nd birthday. But who matters!”

Rocca was there when Maye turned 93 in April, celebrating – how else? – with a sold-out show at the Wick Theater in Boca Raton.

The 93-year-old jazz singer wasn’t about to let a pesky pandemic stop her from doing what she was put on this Earth to do: sing the Great American Songbook.

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But as Billy Stritch, her longtime accompanist, can attest, Maye’s age doesn’t matter: “She sings pretty well for 93. She sings pretty good for 23! She sings pretty much everyone. And she’s still the best for me. “

Stritch, a full-fledged cabaret headliner, met Maye 40 years ago, when he was just 17. “She’s always been a bit like my Aunt Mame, in a way,” he said. “There are times when I just look at her in profile, and I just have these moments out of the body where I’m like, ‘Jesus, look what she’s doing!'”

What she’s been doing for almost eight decades now is singing … On vinyl, in variety shows, and in a commercial for a Lincoln-Mercury car that is still an audience favorite.

Marilyn Maye stars in “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson”:

Marilyn Maye – Those were the days, I will survive, I cried for you, 70s TV through
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But Maye’s house has always been the road. And 2020 was shaping up to be a BIG year.

She said, “I had a lot of dates, more than usual. I think they thought the old maid was going to start any minute, so we better hire her, you know ?”

But as COVID has spread, the cancellations have also spread.

“It was pretty dramatic for me, and traumatic for me, ”Maye said.

Traumatic? “Yeah. That’s what I do. It’s kind of my whole being, it’s entertaining and singing this Great American Songbook. That’s what I was put on this Earth for. I don’t. can’t cook; I’m just singing! “

And Maye wasn’t about to let a pesky pandemic stop her. So she sang wherever she could… in an alley in her hometown of Kansas City…

Marilyn Maye couldn’t catch her show on the road, so she took it down the aisle.

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… without a live audience on public television …

Marilyn Maye, NYE 2020 through
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… And last summer in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

“They always smile and clap a lot, get up, clap and laugh a lot,” she said. “But this year they cried. I said ‘What the world needs now.’ And they cried, you know? They sat at the table and cried. “

“So performance took on a whole new meaning for them?” Rocca asked.

“Absolutely. And for me.”

Rocca asked Stritch, “Where do you see Marilyn Maye in five years?”

“Still kicking at the end of ‘It’s today’,” he said. “If someone had asked me, you know, I wouldn’t even think about it when she turned 80, will we still do it at 93?

The high kick Marilyn Maye.

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Rocca asked Maye, “Has there ever been a time in the past year where you’ve thought, ‘You know what? It is a global pandemic. Maybe I should think about retiring ”?

“Never,” she said. “Never. You know that, Mo. Never.”

” I know it. I just thought I should ask!

“It’s not in my vocabulary,” Maye said. “Word retirement was never part of my vocabulary. Oh no!”

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Story produced by Mary Lou Teel. Publisher: Lauren Barnello.

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