Cabaret Through Time Fridays At McElrath Cabaret: Dick and Kiz Harp–Join Us!

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Fridays are the day when we at the McElrath Cabaret Blog present blog posts in our Cabaret Through Time series. We present historical cabaret singers, entertainers, venues, writers, and musicians, and often include cabaret videos. We hope that you find it informative!

 

Dick and Kiz Harp–A Husband And Wife Duo Working In Texas

 

This is a nightclub duo with which I was not familiar, but they had an interesting story, and so I thought they would be perfect for inclusion in Cabaret Through Time Friday at McElrath Cabaret.  I first learned about them from a mention by James Gavin in his volume Intimate Nights, and there is also information online at 90th Floor Records, which offers their biography as part of the liner notes from one of their two albums.  There is also mention of the duo in Jazz Times, the Dallas Observer, and a rare photo of the duo at this blog.  There is also a great interview at Night Lights Classic Jazz by David Brent Johnson with Bruce Collier, founder and owner of 90th Floor Records, which includes several selections by Dick and Kiz Harp.  At this time, there are no official websites or biographies written about this musical duo.

 

 

Dick Harp was a pianist and singer, and his wife, Kiz, was noted for her beautiful jazz singing and stylings of songs.  Gavin, in Intimate Nights, relates that in the 1950s they “converted an old warehouse behind a Dallas grocery store into a nightclub, called At The 90th Floor,  visited by Marlene Dietrich, Tony Bennett, Phyllis Diller, and many others who admired the couple’s unpretentious way with a tasty, ‘in’ New York repertoire” (372).  This was in the 1950s.  Kiz Harp was noted for her magnetic personality, both on and off the cabaret stage.  Unfortunately, Kiz Harp died of a cerebral hemorrhage at age twenty-eight in 1960, and Dick Harp died in a hurricaine after.  Before this happened, Bruce Collier visited the club and recorded several of their songs, which were put into two albums.  These albums have been reissued as CDs and they are available for purchase at 90thFloorRecords.com.  Song selections feature classic jazz standards as well as lesser-done gems.  The two albums include:

 

  • At the 90th Floor–1960
  • Again!  At the 90th Floor–1961
David Brent Johnson, in the introduction to his interview with Bruce Collier, writes about the appeal of the Harps.  He states that “The Harps, influenced by artists such as Sylvia Sims, Anita O’Day, and Dick Marx’s Chicago trio, came up with their own sound—a blend of cabaret, torch song, and Midwestern camp—riding strongly on Kiz Harp’s magnetic stage presence and slightly hoarse, soulful voice (a listener described her as “Jeri Southern smoking two packs a day”)”.  

I could find no You Tube videos for this musical duo, so I would suggest that you listen to the aforementioned interview as a great introduction to their music–several recordings of their popular songs are included in the interview.   You can also hear song samples for the duo at 90th Floor Records.

 

For the cabaret entertainer, you will hear a duo that works so well together.  She has a voice filled with feeling, and even in audio versions you get a sense of the class and style with which they performed, and which visitors to their club reveled for a brief time in cabaret history.  I also love the fact that they started a nightclub in an old warehouse in a part of the country where there wasn’t much going on in terms of cabaret at all, and it worked for them.

 

What are your favorite songs performed by Dick and Kiz Harp?  Did you have opportunity to go to At The 90th Floor and see Dick and Kiz Harp entertain there?  Please leave a comment below and tell us about it–I would love to hear from you!

 

ps–We have a private party at which we’re performing on Wednesday, and a public performance of our latest cabaret show on Friday, June 8th, 2012.  Check out our Upcoming Performances page for more information if you are in the area and would like to attend!

 

Till next time, 

 

pps–The Cabaret Soiree Link Party will begin anew on Monday–you can visit anytime to click on the links and see what others have posted, or you can share your own recent cabaret blog or now website link every Monday through Thursday.  Link is below.

 

Weekly Post Lineup At McElrath Cabaret:

Mondays:  Cabaret Soiree Cabaret Blog Link Party

Tuesdays:  Cabaret Tip Tuesday

Wednesdays:  Ask A Cabaret Question

Thursdays:  Featured Cabaret Blog, Website, Performer

Fridays:  Cabaret Through Time

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About Athena at McElrath Cabaret

Athena McElrath is an entertainer with a love for theatre and singing. She enjoys delving in the area of historical cabaret, researching the singers and clubs that were in business from before 1920 to the present, in New York and beyond.
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