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Obituaries

* Teri Thornton; Jazz Vocalist

May 04, 2000

Teri Thornton, 65, a jazz vocalist who won the prestigious Thelonious Monk competition in 1998. An only child born to a musical family in Detroit, Thornton saw her star rising in the early 1960s with the release of her debut album "Devil May Care" and her recording of "Somewhere in the Night," the theme song from the television series "Naked City." After she released two more albums, including 1963's "Open Highway" on Columbia, Thornton's career slowed to the point that she became inactive in the music business and devoted her energies to raising her three children. In the early 1980s, she started singing in New York City jazz rooms such as Zinno's and Cleopatra's Needle. Her health took a steep decline when she was diagnosed with cancer. After she had fought the disease into remission, Thornton's manager decided to try to jump-start her career by entering her in the renowned Monk competition, which she won. She was signed to a record contract with Verve shortly afterward and released her first album in 35 years, "I'll Be Easy to Find." A gracious, elegant woman with a wide smile and a smoky voice, Thornton was still performing at the Village Vanguard in New York in late February. On Tuesday in Englewood, N.J., of bladder cancer.

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