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Haunted Heart

A Biography of Susannah McCorkle
Linda Dahl
The secret life and tragic death of a great American songbird

Description

Described by the author as "a combination of Dorothy Parker and Doris Day, Sylvia Plath and Sylvia Sims, a fascinating blend of toughness and innocence, chiseled wit and girlish wonder," Susannah McCorkle began her music career as a disciple of Billie Holiday.

Ultimately McCorkle went on to develop a carefully crafted style of her own, performing in New York's famed Algonquin Hotel and in venues around the world. Yet at the same time, although few of those close to her were aware of this, she struggled with bipolar disorder. Finally, in 2001, unable to overcome her crippling bouts of depression, McCorkle threw herself from the window of her apartment in New York City. Most of those in the overflow crowd at her memorial service were in shock, for McCorkle was as convincing a performer at hiding her despair as she was at singing.

Haunted Heart follows two stories: the downward curve of McCorkle's emotional life as she descended into her illness and the upward arc of her singing career as it lurched uncertainly toward success. Just as important and fascinating is the light Dahl sheds on the musicians and writers of the '70s, '80s, and '90s who created and informed public perceptions about the music of the jazz and cabaret world. By turns glamorous and brutal, this demimonde fed both the talents and insecurities of those who called it their home.

Linda Dahl is the author of Stormy Weather: The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazzwomen and Morning Glory: A Biography of Mary Lou Williams.

Visit the author's website at www.dahljazz.com.

Cover photograph: Rahav Segev/Photopass.com © 1999-2006; Susannah McCorkle performing at The Algonquin Oak Room, June 25, 1999.

"In this comprehensive biography, compiled from meticulous research and interviews with many of McCorkle's confidants . . . Dahl reconstructs a career distinguished by great promise and great sadness . . . doing her best to address a large, looming 'Why?' that can never be completely answered."
---New York Times

"A compelling, sympathetic but often chilling view not only of McCorkle's complexities but also of the difficult business of music itself and of the widespread always potentially fatal illness now better known as bipolar disorder, which the singer hid from so many, even from herself for many years."
---Newsweek

"Susannah's life was dark and daunting. Her music was suave and sunny. Both are honored in this remarkably well-researched and constantly revealing keyhole peek into a haunted life that is both chilling and exhilarating. I could not put it down."
---Rex Reed

"Heart wrenching. . . . Dahl's thoughtful and sometimes harrowing biography is sure to address the lingering questions about Susannah McCorkle's tragic death. . . . She paints an intimate and deeply moving portrait of this lost soul."
---Andrea Marcovicci

"Susannah McCorkle was a mesmerizing singer with a dark side she hid even from her closest friends. Now, thanks to this probing and courageous biography, we can understand the gut ambition that took her to the top of her field and the turmoil that brought her down."
---James Gavin, author of Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker

"Haunted Heart strikingly resembles the woman it describes: it is vivacious, tender, saturnine, industrious, and deeply intelligent. Like Susannah's way with certain ballads, it opens a wound and begins the work of healing it. I am grateful for Linda Dahl's diligence and sympathy."
---Leon Wieseltier

"an intimate and blunt book, full of details about McCorkle's spicy romances, along with material on the creative work that makes her worthy of attention."
---New Republic

Praise / Awards

  • "In this comprehensive biography, compiled from meticulous research and interviews with many of McCorkle's confidants . . . Dahl reconstructs a career distinguished by great promise and great sadness . . . doing her best to address a large, looming "Why?" that can never be completely answered."
    ---The New York Times

  • "Heart wrenching . . . . Dahl's thoughtful and sometimes harrowing biography is sure to address the lingering questions about Susanna McCorkle's tragic death . . . . she paints an intimate and deeply moving portrait of this lost soul."
    ---Andrea Marcovicci
  • "Susannah McCorkle was a mesmerizing singer with a dark side she hid even from her closest friends. Now, thanks to this probing and courageous biography, we can understand the gut ambition that took her to the top of her field and the turmoil that brought her down."
    ---James Gavin, author of Deep in a Dream: The Long Night of Chet Baker
  • "Haunted Heart strikingly resembles the woman it describes: it is vivacious, tender, saturnine, industrious, and deeply intelligent. Like Susannah's way with certain ballads, it opens a wound and begins the work of healing it. I am grateful for Linda Dahl's diligence and sympathy."
    ---Leon Wieseltier
  • "Susannah's life was dark and daunting. Her music was suave and sunny. Both are honored in this remarkably well-researched and constantly revealing keyhole peek into a haunted life that is both chilling and exhilarating. I could not put it down."
    ---Rex Reed
  • “A complicated tale to be unraveled—Susannah’s greatest achievement may well have been her own life story.”
    ---Will Friedwald, author of Stardust Melodies, The Good Life, Jazz Singing and Sinatra! The Song is You
  • ". . . an intimate and blunt book, full of details about McCorkle's spicy romances, along with material on the creative work that makes her worthy of attention five years after her death."
    ---The New Republic
  • ". . . a compelling portrait of an artist who was defeated by inner demons. . . . Though McCorkle wore many masks in her life, she revealed much of her pain through her singing. Whether she was jazz or cabaret, her loss was a music tragedy."
    ---j. b. spins
  • "A brilliant expose of a troubled American songbird, surveying her many achievements as she developed her own
    style. . . . a key piece of musical history not to be missed."
    ---California Bookwatch
  • "A compelling, sympathetic but often chilling view not only of McCorkle's complexities but also of the difficult business of music itself and of the widespread always potentially fatal illness now better known as bipolar disorder, which the singer hid from so many, even from herself for many years."
    ---Newsweek

  • "...among the best music biographies I have read in recent years."
    ---Jazz Journal

  • "This is a fine biography, accurate and honest, and full of surprises. . . . highly recommended reading."
    ---jazzreview.com

Look Inside

Copyright © 2006, Linda Dahl. All rights reserved. Posted August 2006 and January 2008.

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Product Details

  • 6 x 9.25.
  • 344pp.
  • 8 page photo section.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 2008
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-03273-0

Add to Cart
  • $20.95 U.S.

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