May 17 – Happy Birthday Sue Dunning Matthews

Since I started writing about people who have lived in my hometown, many regular readers of my Amsterdam books and this Blog have approached or messaged me to tell me how impressed they are with my memory. I’m flattered of course but I truly believe the secret to my ability to recall people and events so well is more a credit to the talents, skills, accomplishments and in many cases friendship of the individuals I write about. That plus I appreciate excellence in any form. I’m passionate about so many things, history, sports, music, business, politics, love of family etc. and have been from a very young age so it is extremely easy for me to remember moments in my life when I’ve been thrilled, touched, deeply impressed or enchanted by the performances and actions of others who’ve lived in my hometown.

Today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant is a great example. I will never forget the evening I sat in the Lynch Auditorium and heard Sue Dunning sing the song “Misty” accompanied by  the amazing Amsterdam Stage Band. It was either in 1968 or ’69 and I vividly remember being absolutely in awe of that beautiful and talented young woman that night. First of all, I was a big fan of the song she sang. Secondly, back in the 1960s, the Amsterdam High School Stage Band was truly a professional quality ensemble, loaded with extremely gifted young musicians led by the incredible trumpet player Mike Pallotta. But it was Dunning’s voice and pacing that made the magic.

She was just a year ahead of me in school. Her dad was the long-time Amsterdam dentist, Dr. Robert Dunning. Being just a fan and not really a friend, I completely lost track of what happened to her after she graduated from Lynch in 1971. I just hoped she kept on singing.

Well guess what? She did and still does, concentrating mostly on jazz. She also got married and now lives in Maryland and goes by the name, Sue Matthews. I found a detailed description of her, her music and her career at the Web site AllMusic.com. Here’s an excerpt from that description:

Like Eden Atwood and the late Susannah McCorkle, Sue Matthews is a very accessible jazz singer who incorporates cabaret and traditional pop elements. Matthews, who lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, has a clean, crystal-clear, pretty sort of voice; she isn’t a rugged, hard-edged singer à la Ernestine Anderson or Carmen McRae. Nonetheless, Matthews swings, and she brings a lot of blues feeling to her work. She has a big, full voice and an impressive range; for all the vulnerability that she displays, Matthews will never be accused of sounding like a waif. In fact, one can hear how she has been affected by some aspects of Ella Fitzgerald’s singing, specifically, the softer, more caressing side that Fitzgerald often displayed on ballads…

I also found this recording of Sue singing “I Love Being Here With You.” Happy birthday Sue and thanks for the memory!

Sue Matthews shares her May 17th Birthday with this former Amsterdam industrialist.

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