Grammy Award winner and debut memoirist Stevens recounts the evolution of her pop singing career and personal life.
Born in 1929 to a working-class Italian-American family, Stevens (nee Caroline Vincinette LoTempio) grew up in Niagara Falls, N.Y. She loved to sing at an early age, and brother Nino, six years her junior, joined in as soon as he could on vocals and instrumental accompaniment. Their parents nurtured the children’s musical talents and moved to Los Angeles in 1940 to improve their show-business opportunities. By 1948, Stevens was performing locally in various venues with a unique style that she describes as an “untrained voice, rather breathy and husky, especially if I sang softly.” This suggestive quality became her hallmark. Two years later, she landed her first recording contract for a single, “No, No, No, Not That,” which most radio stations refused to air because of its risqué overtones. She signed with RCA Victor the following year and began to attract a wide following of fans, particularly among American servicemen overseas. While touring domestically in 1952, she met wealthy, married businessman Glenn McCarthy, with whom she began a seven-year affair during which she put her singing on hold. After the relationship ended, she concentrated on rebuilding her career and found success featuring her signature style in “Teach Me Tiger,” which she and Nino recorded in 1959. Other hits followed, and the two reached their pinnacle when their single, “Deep Purple,” won the Grammy Award for the best rock ’n’ roll record of 1963. They enjoyed a spotty string of success in the following years, and she settled into a happy married life in 1985, largely leaving her career behind. Although not deeply introspective, Stevens’ account will likely appeal to her fans and to baby boomers nostalgic for the music of their youth. Those unfamiliar with her career may enjoy reading of 1950s and ’60s Hollywood and the music scenes and celebrities with whom she rubbed shoulders: Humphrey Bogart, Frank Sinatra, Cher and family friend Carey Grant. Short chapters and a smooth conversational tone move Stevens’ story along briskly. Bonuses include 21 pages of photos, discographies, and her mother’s recipe for spaghetti sauce and meatballs.
An upbeat memoir from a sultry songstress of the baby boomer era.