Billy Eckstine, whose velvety baritone voice made him one of the most popular jazz singers of the ’40s and ’50s, was born on this day (July 8) in 1914. In addition to being an abundantly skilled performer and an astute interpreter of lyrics, Eckstine also had an incredible ear for jazz talent. In the 1940s, his bands featured a number of musicians who would go on to become jazz legends, including Dizzy Gillespie, Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Charlie Parker, Fats Navarro and Sarah Vaughan.
“I Apologize,” a recording he made for MGM in 1948, was one of Eckstine’s most enduring hits. The tune, presented here as our Song of the Day, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.