Whether the subject is escaping a revolution in Portugal, her serendipitous meeting with singer Helen Merrill, or her early experience as a New York nightclub performer in her mother’s borrowed gowns (let’s say a FEW items got pinched, including her cab fare home,) enchanting songstress Yvonne Roome is a treasure trove of unique experiences which she recounts with lusty amusement. A vivacious New York character who blends a contemporary lifestyle with the manners and sophistication of a gentler time, the Swedish born entertainer radiates worldliness and taste. As an artist, she values discovering musicians, producers and writers who will bring a fresh, timeless quality to her recordings and performances.
Yvonne Hammond was the poised child of a Stockholm couturier. When her mother divorced and remarried an American she sang regularly on her mother’s fashion program on WEVD radio in New York at the age of 9. At 14 she began formal voice training with Sano Marco, a popular teacher whose Carnegie Hall Studio was adorned with dozens of photos by Bruno Of Hollywood. Waiting for her lessons, Yvonne was mesmerized by photos of Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and other stars. One day out walked Dorothy Lamour!
She ‘debuted’ into New York society at 18 and attended Finch College where she majored in Radio and TV. She married for the first time right out of college for what Yvonne describes as a typical reason in those days. “We were in love, of course and you know what that means! I was a good girl, so we married.” Yvonne slyly describes her husband as an ‘entrepreneur’ who wanted to have a family and live in New Jersey For anyone who knows Yvonne, it was a hilarious, implausible prospect, and the marriage was not to last. After their divorce, Yvonne sensibly financed a trip back to Stockholm by selling her wedding gifts! Thus began a wanderlust which saw her through two more husbands (a Portuguese she met on a blind date in Lisbon and a Swede 25 years her senior), a five year romance with the world renowned band leader (Lester Lanin) and a revolution, before settled down with her beloved No. 4, the late Dr. Norman Roome.
Marriage No. 2 was an interesting affair, with Yvonne living mostly in New York and her husband living mostly in his native Portugal. In Manhattan she worked for Conde Nast and enthusiastically pursued singing engagements. Her early show biz stories span from “mom and apple pie” (USO shows) to once opening for pioneer transsexual Christine Jorgensen in a Village nightclub. She met Lester Lanin, a showman who was known for his elegance as much as his talent on the bandstand. Statuesque 5’10” Yvonne and Lester were smitten the night they met, although they seemed an unlikely pair given their age difference, and Lester’s modest stature. During their romance Yvonne performed on many occasions with Lester’s orchestra and Lester introduced her to pianist Jimmy Lyons who coached and accompanied her. Lester didn’t seem interested in marriage (never mind the fact that Yvonne was still married to husband No. 2). Eventually Yvonne returned to Europe where she worked for Radio Free Europe in Stockholm. Her job was to translate news and information into English and send the material to Munich for broadcast behind the Iron Curtain. Among many interesting assignments Yvonne interviews film director Ingmar Bergman. Still missing Lester, she married again. Yvonne and the bandleader never re-ignited their romance, however their friendship endured. Lester became pals with soon to be husband No. 4 and Lester along with Henny Youngman and Gary Stevens helped engineer Yvonne’s invitation for membership to the New York Friars Club making her one of the first women members.
After settling in with Norman, Yvonne was very active in charity work, particularly with the Creative Arts Rehabilitation Center whose president was Celeste Holm. One afternoon, hosting an afternoon meeting in her upper East Side apartment complete with tea, little sandwiches and sherry, Yvonne was impressed with Celeste arriving in a cowboy outfit on her way to Texas to perform her signature song from Oklahoma. She only stayed a few minutes and this turned out to be Yvonne’s ‘ah hah’ moment. She made up her mind to pursue a career as a performer. She began studying and landed roles in several Todd Solondz films, industrials, commercials, voiceovers and print work. Within a few years Yvonne’s singing engagements in many New York spots such as Danny’s Skylight Roome, Panache, Mr. Sam’s, Shutter’s, Eighty Eights, Tavern on the Green were building a following. In the late nineties Henny Youngman featured Yvonne in his show at Lincoln Center.
Yvonne has another strong champion in jazz singer and friend Helen Merrill whom she met on a flight to Stockholm. Yvonne, Norman , Helen and her husband – the brilliant arranger Torrie Zito – became good friends and Helen urged Yvonne to make a recording, offering to produce it. She enlisted husband Torrie to do the arrangements. That mutual effort SOMETHING COOL established Yvonne as a first rate recording artist. It featured Toots Thielemans, a good friend and neighbor in Montauk. Something Cool was widely and favorably reviewed and Yvonne fell in love with the process of recording. Over the next decade Yvonne recorded Quiet Nights, Jazzmine, La Vie En Roome, New In New York (original songs by composer Brian Gari) The Best of Yvonne Roome, Roome for Love, and the newly released Roome For Romance. Her recording of “You’re Too Dangerous Cherie” from La Vie EnRoome earned her a spot on the Grammy ballot in 1997. Toots Thielemans has been featured on five Yvonne Roome CDs in all which are distinguished by a natural relaxed style, a beautiful, versatile voice and high production values.
Yvonne is busy promoting the release of Roome for Romance which is on Original Cast Records. She is looking forward to seeing you at her live appearances though she doesn’t care for all the dressing up she has to do. It won’t take much to make Yvonne look good. In fact, she’s simply gorgeous, she sings great and she has eyes, cheekbones and a knowing smile that won’t quit.