Keely Smith (born Dorothy Jacqueline Keely, 9 March 1932, in Norfolk, Virginia, of part Cherokee and Irish descent) is an American jazz and popular music singer who enjoyed great popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. Her collaborations with Louis Prima and Frank Sinatra were highly rated. Smith was much admired for her singing style, and for her duets with Louis Prima. In recent years, Smith resumed her career to critical acclaim.
Smith made her professional debut with Louis Prima in 1949 (the couple were married in 1953); Smith played the "straight guy" in the duo to Prima's wild antics and they recorded many duets. These include Johnny Mercer's and Harold Arlen's "That Ol' Black Magic", which was a Top 20 hit in the US in 1958. In 1959, Smith and Prima were awarded the first-ever Grammy Award for Best Performance by a Vocal Group or Chorus for "That Ol' Black Magic." Her "dead-pan" act, similar to Virginia O'Brien, was a solid hit with fans. The duo followed up with the minor successes "I've Got You Under My Skin" and "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen," a revival of the 1937 Andrews Sisters hit.
Smith appeared with Prima in the 1959 film Hey Boy! Hey Girl!, singing "Fever", and also appeared in and sang on the soundtrack of the previous year's Thunder Road. Her song in Thunder Road was "Whippoorwill," remembered as one of her best. Her first big solo hit was "I Wish You Love."
In 1961, Smith divorced Prima. She then signed with Reprise Records, where her musical director was Nelson Riddle. In 1965, she had Top 20 hits in the UK with an album of Beatles compositions and a version of "You're Breaking My Heart."
In 1985, she made a well-received comeback with "I'm In Love Again" (Verve). Her albums Swing, Swing, Swing (2002), Keely sings Sinatra (2001 - for which she was Grammy nominated), and Keely Swings Count Basie Style with Strings (2002) have garnered much critical and fan acclaim. Most recently, Smith released Vegas '58 -- Today a compilation album of her best known songs, all recorded live. Smith has re-recorded a number of songs from her Prima years, including a modified version of "Oh Marie," which has been renamed "Oh Louis" in tribute. By her own admission, she has never had a singing lesson and cannot read music.
Now in her 70s, Smith works a light touring schedule, but continues to wow fans with her strong voice and natural stage presence. She was booked at the prestigious Cafe Carlyle in New York City for the entire month of April, 2007.