Spectacular Detroit-born vocalist
Lillie-Mae "Betty Carter" Jones (1930)
did more than simply use the voice as an instrument: she used the voice as
"the" instrument. The Modern Sound (august 1960) debuted her tour de
force, the seven-minute Sounds, that relied entirely on her creative
singing. Her style became both more abstract and more personal on
Album (1973), mostly composed by her, that was more in line with the
spirit of free jazz than with the spirit of bebop.
Her crowning performance was a 25-minute version of Sounds on the double-LP The Audience (december 1979).
Only in the 1990s was she recognized as the greatest jazz vocalist yet, but
later albums (suddenly hailed as masterpieces by the same critics who had
always ignored her) were inferior.
Carter died in 1998.