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Marlene Ver Planck

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  • Born: Newark, NJ
  • Years Active: 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Marlene Ver Planck paid tribute to the great American songbook. Ver Planck, who grew up in Newark, NJ, listening to Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald on WNEW radio, collaborated throughout her long career with her husband, arranger, composer, and conductor Billy Ver Planck. Her 2000 CD, My Impetuous Heart (DRG), her 17th album, reunited her with some old friends, including jazz pianist Hank Jones and special guests jazz pianists George Shearing and Marian McPartland and guitarist Bucky Pizzarelli. Ver Planck's career was a long string of success stories, which showcased her as a versatile singer with a gorgeous, pliable voice that knew how to tell a story.

She started singing at age 19. Her career stretched back to the '50s when she worked with Tex Beneke and Charlie Spivak. Her first big break came in 1955 when she teamed up with pianist Hank Jones, flutist Herbie Mann, trumpeter Joe Wilder, bassist Wendell Marshall, and drummer Kenny Clarke on I Think of You with Every Breath I Take on Savoy Records. She met her husband while performing with Charlie Spivak's band, then both moved over to the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra. Tommy Dorsey died in 1956, so the Ver Plancks decided to stay in New York City to pursue studio work with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Blood Sweat and Tears, and Kiss. Millions of people outside the jazz world first heard Ver Planck's voice, though, doing jingles in the '60s : "Weekends were made for Michelob/Yeah!" and "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should!" and "Mmm good/mm-mm good/that's what Campbell's Soups are/mm mm good." After thousands of commercial jingles and hours and hours of studio session work in New York, the Ver Plancks decided to settle down in their house in Clifton, NJ, and began performing and recording together.

Their first recording together was A Breath of Fresh Air, arranged, produced, and conducted by Billy Ver Planck in 1968. In 1976, Marlene Ver Planck hooked up with North Carolina-based composer/pianist Loonis McGlohon, who hired her to do two installments of a radio show he co-hosted called Alec Wilder's American Popular Song. Afterwards, she recorded Marlene Ver Planck Sings Alec Wilder, and later, after Wilder's death, she appeared on the radio show The American Popular Singers, co-hosted by McGlohon and opera singer Eileen Farrell. Ver Planck performed at Carnegie Hall, Michael's Pub, and the Rainbow Room in New York City. She appeared on Entertainment Tonight, The Today Show, and CBS's Sunday Morning. In The Digital Mood, featuring Ver Planck, Mel Torme, and Julius La Rosa with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, became the first big band CD to go gold in the '90s. Ver Planck planned to record again in late 2001 in tribute to her love for the music of Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Jerome Kern, and Cole Porter.