Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Anita Darian

Multi-talented soprano Anita Darian, who provided the unforgettable counter-melody in The Tokens 1961 number one hit The Lion Sleeps Tonight,  died last month in Long Island, NY. I'd become curious about who the singer was on that song and looked it up a few weeks ago, and last night when I went to look up her name again learned of her Feb 1 death from complications during surgery.

Anita Darian during a 1962 Showboat cast recording

Darian, of Armenian descent and born in 1927 in Detroit, had a long and varied career that included Broadway, top opera companies and a solo recording career.

The song The Lion Sleeps Tonight, by the way, also has a long and varied career. Composed by a South African named Solomon Linda and first recorded by him in 1939, it was discovered and brought to America by Pete Seeger and has been recorded many, many times. I have to admit that I went on an iTunes buying binge one night and downloaded about 40 or 45 different versions of it. It was fun hearing the different ways people have done the song and I would have liked to set up some kind of a deal where I was woken up by a different version every morning. They are all good, especially some of the a capella ones; it's just a great song and apparently almost impossible to do badly. My favorite version is still The Tokens original 1961 recording, in no small part because of Darian, but not only that.

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