Andy Bey has been out of the closet since 1994, not an easy move to make in the rather homophobic Jazz world. Braver still, he is comfortable talking about his HIV status. Bey:
I figured they were going to find out anyway, and I had to learn how to take care of myself and deal with being positive on an emotional level. But it didn’t overwhelm or frighten me. It helped me to grow. It made me realize who I was and who wasn’t in my corner.
When he was in his early teens Andy Bey (1939) worked on the television show Startime with Connie Francis. He also sang backup for Louis Jordan. He was 17-years-old when he formed a trio with his siblings Salome and Geraldine, Andy and the Bey Sisters. They performed together in Europe and across the USA for more than a decade, recording three well-received albums before splitting up in 1967.
During the 1970s, Bey, who has a wide four-octave vocal range, worked with vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater and drummer Max Roach. From 1980s to the aughts, he recorded more than a dozen albums and collaborated with Fred Hersch, another openly gay jazz musician.
Bey received the 2003 Jazz Vocalist of the Year award by the Jazz Journalists Association. At 79-years-old, he continues to tour.
Bey is well represented in my rather small, but well selected Jazz section of my music collection. Bey is the consummate ballad singer of jazz standards, possessing a rich, silky, velvet baritone. Check him out.