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This rough live track of an improvised vocalese duet is very precious to me because it is the only document I have of the best male singer I ever had the joy of working with: Sterling Cotton. The cast of Actual Sho was made up of several classical singers, several gospel singers, a few jazz singers and me. Temple was the first piece of Marc Ream's music I ever heard, at the audition where I ended up being cast, and I fell in love with it instantly. I was beyond thrilled when I got given it to sing over and dueting with Sterling was like a delicious dream. His voice had a richness and warmth that reminded me of Marvin Gaye and he was a delightful person as well, just sweet and charming and funny.

As he was a gospel singer, it will come as no surprise when I mention that he had links to the church. But it was a surprise when I heard a few years after Actual Sho that Sterling had given up performing as he wanted to enter the priesthood. I thought it was a tragic loss for the performing arts world that his voice would no longer be available to the general public.

I was even more shocked when I heard, some time later, that he had died: an early victim of the AIDS virus that was only just being identified. Discovering that he was gay made other things, including his devotion to the church, kind of make more sense though. My guess is that he felt somehow righteous about sacrificing a career based on his talent perhaps in some kind of exchange for his sexuality, which must have seemed hugely transgressive from within that Christian paradigm.

I adored Sterling Cotton. What a voice! I feel so happy to have this recording of us together, even though I sing a note or two that are so blue you might even think they were flat.

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from Music with Marc Ream, San Francisco 1988​-​1998, released December 31, 1990

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Diana Rosalind New Orleans, Louisiana

After being discovered by Bobby McFerrin as a young vocal improviser in San Francisco, I spent some years writing and performing with ensembles that remain important in the history of Bay Area arts, then did time tangling with the music biz in LA & NYC, followed by a decade in Europe, recording all the while, before coming "home" to NOLA. This is a partial musical record of that journey. ... more

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