Performer sang from Hollywood musical songbook
Cabaret singer Mary Cleere Haran died Feb. 5 in Deerfield Beach, Fla. She was 58.Haran succumbed to injuries sustained when a car hit her while she was bicycling. She was among the best known latter-day New York cabaret performers and was identified with her performances of songs from Hollywood musicals, favoring compositions by such movie cleffers as Harry Warren, Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Mercer. In his 2010 book “A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers,” Will Friedwald said of Haran’s cabaret work, “She celebrates the medium for its intimacy, its directness and, in her hands, its emotional honesty.” Born in California, she moved to New York in the 1970s and became a familiar face on the Big Apple’s club scene, where she was accompanied by such top pianists as Richard Rodney Bennett and Fred Hersch. She began her recording career at Columbia Records in 1992 with a live album recorded at the Algonquin Hotel. Her film-centric albums included “This Heart of Mine: Classic Movie Songs of the Forties” (1994) and “Pennies From Heaven: Movie Songs From the Depression Era” (1998). She also cut recitals of songs by George Gershwin and Lorenz Hart. Her cabaret performances at venues like vocalist Michael Feinstein’s eponymous club were organized thematically in similar fashion. She brought her knowledge of classic popular songs to such PBS productions as the “Great Performances” documentary “The Great American Songbook” (2003), which she wrote, and “Doris Day: A Sentimental Journey” (1991), which she wrote and co-produced. She is survived by a son as well as three brothers and three sisters.