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Johnny Mathis calls 'Laura' jazz standard his favorite song to sing

UPI News Service, 09/23/2010 

The jazz standard "Laura" is Johnny Mathis's favorite song to sing, the U.S. romantic-jazz and pop-standards singer said Thursday.

The 1945 song, composed by David Raksin with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, "is the song I really love to sing the most because the orchestration is so beautiful" and the song's "process" is so captivating, Mathis told radio station WKNY-AM, Kingston, N.Y., in an interview.

The song, adapted from the theme of the 1944 film of the same name, has been recorded more than 400 times, including by Dick Haymes, Charlie Parker, J.J. Johnson, Woody Herman, Frank Sinatra and Julie London.

Mathis also said one of "the great highlights of my life" was "the first time I heard myself on the radio" in 1957, when his recordings of "Wonderful! Wonderful!" and "It's Not for Me to Say" were pop hits.

The singer, who turns 75 Sept. 30, said he attributed the longevity of his voice, and the fact that it still sounds very much as it did in his heyday, to his genes and to taking care of his voice.

While first attributing his voice to his "mom and dad," the fourth child of seven said, "The first thing I do is take care of my voice," which includes no smoking, drinking or other vices that could damage his vocal cords, he told the radio station.

In a 1999 interview, Mathis told The Toronto Star he had been through rehabilitation for both alcohol and prescription-drug addictions.

Mathis, who was born in Gilmer, Texas, released "Let It Be Me: Mathis in Nashville" Tuesday. The album, featuring country music standards, includes "Make the World Go Away,""Crazy,""Southern Nights,""Shenandoah,""I Can't Stop Lovin' You" and "Love Me Tender."

"I wanted to pay tribute to some of these classic songs and classic interpretations," Mathis told WKNY.

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