Groundbreaking, inspirational, trailblazing, beautiful — all words that have been used to describe the iconic Diahann Carroll. The Grammy Award, NAACP Image Award, Golden Globe and Tony Award-winning Carroll left an indelible legacy (read Carroll’s biography here.) A pioneer amongst pioneers, she stood alongside black women the likes of Lena Horne, Ruby Dee, and Diana Sands (learn more about Dee and Sands here) all of whom were trailblazers in their own right. Since her passing at 84-years-old on Oct 4, 2019, numerous stories and tributes of her life are readily accessible.
Do not misunderstand that a well-placed big-haired shoulder-padded stunt-double brawl between Dominique Deveraux and Alexis Colby of Dynasty always escalated the ratings. Carroll’s theatrical/movie career stands on its own, but her tender performance of “Quiet Nights” in 1964 on the Judy Garland show, in my opinion, encapsulated her. Carroll appears in a white, wide-leg pantsuit covered in a sheer, waist-length ostrich-trimmed, trapeze-cut blouse, with boat-neck and bell sleeves, a Ray Aghayan and Bob Mackie design, surely chosen to accent the airy floating strings of the bossa nova instrumentals.
She is in her youth and she is simply captivating. Her performance is full-bodied and sumptuous, and the mere fact the song, within itself, is beauty, Carroll’s distinct sensuality punctuates its soft indulgence. She alters one word in the lyrics creating a pivotal adjustment, addressing her lover.
“Quiet nights and quiet stars/Quiet chords from ‘your’ guitar” — as opposed to the original lyrics —”Quiet chords from ‘my’ guitar.
She incorporates her theatrical expertise in her vocal projection and restraint. Desire beams from her eyes. She sways and floats in rhapsody, conveying more genuine emotion than in most modern performances and at a moment it seems she almost cannot contain her undiluted joy.
Where she is you want to be also.
She is elegant, chic, refined and as always, much like her portrayal in life, exudes class. Appreciate, for yourself, the one-and-only, Diahann Carroll.
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