Syms, Sylvia

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Syms, Sylvia

Syms, Sylvia, jazz-pop singer; b. Brooklyn, N.Y., Dec. 2, 1917; d. N.Y., May 10, 1992. Syms was originally inspired to sing after hearing Billie Holiday perform on N.Y/s 52nd St. Holiday took Syms under her wing, and Syms began performing in N.Y. clubs in 1941. Mae West heard her perform in 1948, which led to Syms’s first stage role. She had a long career on the Broadway stage, and was much admired by other singers. Frank Sinatra called her “The best saloon singer in the world,” and produced her 1982 album, Syms by Sinatra. Less active in the 1970s, Syms made a comeback on the cabaret scene in the 1980s. In 1987, while performing at N.Y/s Algonquin Hotel, she died of a heart attack.


Songs by Sylvia Syms (1952); Fabulous Sylvia Syms (1964); Syms by Sinatra (1982); Jazz Portrait of Johnny Mercer (1984); You Must Believe in Spring (1991).

—Lewis Porter