Author, Dr. Gregg Akkerman
Associate Professor of Music
University of South Carolina Upstate
Nominated for Jazz Book of the Year!
Hartman's baritone voice held millions in anticipation as Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep slowly danced in The Bridges of Madison County. His renditions of “My One and Only Love” and “Lush Life” with iconic saxophonist John Coltrane have become definitive masterpieces. His recordings have been used to enhance the seduction of Victoria’s Secret and the sophistication of scotch and wine. Yet, even all these years since his passing in 1983, the complete story of Johnny Hartman has never been documented. Only now, in The Last Balladeer: The Johnny Hartman Story does author Gregg Akkerman reveal the entire account of how Hartman became the very voice of romance in our time.
Akkerman expertly traces the journey of the Grammy-nominated vocalist from his big-band origins with Earl Hines and Dizzy Gillespie to his storied career as a solo recording artist. Through exclusive interviews with Hartman’s family, friends, and fellow musicians including Tony Bennett, Billy Taylor, Kurt Elling, Jon Hendricks and many others, Akkerman positions Hartman as the “last balladeer” of his kind, singing with a sentiment that still captures the hearts of fans across the world.
"Akkerman…has made a crucial contribution to keeping Hartman’s memory alive with this biography."
~Aaron Cohen's "Editor's Pick" at DownBeat Magazine
"Johnny Hartman is perhaps the most undeservedly neglected vocalist in the history of twentieth-century popular music. With this meticulously researched and beautifully written volume, Gregg Akkerman has corrected that omission once and for all. The Last Balladeer is a must-have for anyone interested in American popular music."
~Leonard Mustazza, author of Ol' Blue Eyes: A Frank Sinatra Encyclopedia
"Akkerman examines the artistic successes and professional failures of Hartman’s career in extensive and compassionate detail. He has dipped deeply into contemporary press accounts and filled them out with extensive interviews for a first-rate work."
~John McDonough, Downbeat
"I read The Last Balladeer over the weekend and enjoyed it immensely. It mirrors many of my own joys and frustrations in the music industry and is a wonderful, fitting tribute to one of America's most gifted singers."
~Carol Sloane, jazz vocalist
"How can the most serene and pitch-perfect African-American baritone have had such an enigmatic career? In this eloquent, insightful account of Johnny Hartman’s life and music, Gregg Akkerman situates the definitive ballad singer within the context of conflicting demands and longstanding tensions between jazz and popular music."
~Barry Kernfeld, editor, The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz
"My former wife not only had a facility for singing jazz (well), but also remembering lyrics of out-of-the-way songs of the type sung by Johnny Hartman whose music she loved. Recalling her rendering of “I Just Dropped By to Say Hello” while reading this book made me realize just how well Akkerman expertly captures the life and music of this vital, memorable jazz singer."
~Tad Hershorn, author of Norman Granz: The Man Who Used Jazz for Justice
"Hundreds of thousands of people have enjoyed Johnny Hartman's voice over the years. Whether through his epic collaboration with John Coltrane or his music being featured in major Hollywood films, his incredible voice is one of the most identifiable, gorgeous sounds of the previous century. But how many people know about the man behind the music? Gregg Akkerman has filled a huge hole in jazz and popular music literature with 'The Last Balladeer,' a truly definitive work. Akkerman's tremendous research makes Hartman the singer--and more importantly, Hartman the man--come alive like never before."
~Ricky Riccardi, author of What a Wonderful World: The Magic of Louis Armstrong's Later Years
"Through excellent research into Johnny Hartman's life and career, Akkerman's The Last Balladeer accomplishes that rare feat in biography of conveying to the reader the day-to-day rhythm of his subject's life."
~Jeffery S. McMillan, author of Delightfulee: The Life and Music of Lee Morgan
"Akkerman's writing style is terrific. Excellent story telling that flows seamlessly - not antiseptic fact regurgitation that plagues so many biographies."
~Bill McCann, host of "The Saturday Morning Edition of Jazz" 90.9 FM, WCDB, Albany, NY
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