Coloring outside the lines with Timi Yuro

Some singers follow melodies and keep their vocalizing nice and neat, like a studious 4 year old now perfecting the ability to color with a red crayon within the lines of an apple or balloon…


…in Timi Yuro’s (1940-2004) childhood she must have been encouraged to color on the kitchen walls in marinara sauce, and we’re forever thankful for her wonderous, operatic contributions to soul music.

Born in Chicago Rosemarie Timotea Aurro and steeped in Dinah Washington (which she has a tonal commonality with), Sarah Vaughn and Ruth Brown by a black Nanny according to legend that once of a decent age, would sneak her into local Jazz and Blues clubs to see the greats that she would emulate singing in front of crowds chomping down on Spaghetti later when her family relocated to Los Angeles and moved the family restaurant business, Alvoturnos there…


…and she made the restaurant a local sensation with her wonderfully overpainted performances of blues, pop and jazz hits of the day…eventually leading to a contract with Mercury records, that unleashed her wonderfully overly emotive cover of “Hurt” (a major #4 Pop hit and a #25 R&B hit) and… well alot of MOR pop with some lovely detours into post doo-wop… until the incendiary “What’s a Mater Baby” hit in 1962 (with finishing touches by none other than Phil Spector finishing his contract with Liberty, and using the paycheck to steal “He’s A Rebel” from up under Vicki Carr and the label).

Then her recordings appropriately leaned into a girl group/uptown soul bag (with covers of “Hallelujah, I Love Her So” decorating LPs and wondrously sexist Dionne Warwick demos like “The Love of A Boy”, a song basically denoting the joys of losing your virginity… take that “Will You Still Love Me Tommorrow”) and, due to her friendship with Willie Nelson/love for Patsy Cline, she then jumped to Country Soul with the first hit version of “Make The World Go Away”


….then came a label shift to Mercury for more creative freedom, telling Burt Bacharach to go fuck himself for trying to tell her how to sing “What The World Needs Now” and eventual passage into a cult figure with most of the rest of her output from the late 1960s becoming Northern Soul Gold…

And time passed… and she became “reclusive” , battled throat cancer repeatedly….although from an interview did about 5 years before her death she seemed she ended up in Vegas, a wise woman, appreciative of the life she had… and proud of her legacy, however much it was really in the shadows of pop culture.

So I present to you my favorite moment of hers, a decidedly non-hit from 1965 called “Get Out Of My Life” that displays the righteous rage she could channel just moments away from bein remarkably shy shocked and insular in phrasing just moments before.

Soul Music once upon a time had a 4’11 Italian Opera singer.. coloring outside the lines in Jungle Red.



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5 responses to “Coloring outside the lines with Timi Yuro

  1. Absolutely suberb tribute. Always one of my all time favorites. Growing up emersed in Mod , Rock And Roll, Soulie, etc…I discovered Timi Yuro on a Liberty “Greatest Hits” comp and never looked back. I’ve spun her records for 9 years and will never stop. She was incredible and beyond cool.

    • I remember hearing her first like at 2am on KFRC back in 1994 or 95. One of those summer nights I was home alone as my dad worked graveyard, so I would call in Candi Chamberlain and request songs, she thinking because of my deep for my age speaking voice I was somewhere in my 30s, when I was 12/13, because what 12 year old would be calling and asking for The Ronettes “Do I Love You” at 2am? Anyways one night I was stumped at what I wanted her to play for my requests, so she gave me a triple play of Timi Yuro’s biggest hits, mentioned above. Fell in love with her with that first harrowing “I…………..’m” in the beginning of “Hurt” I was hooked.

      I love that after it all of the ups and down, she actually loved the semi-turbulent life, admired and respected those who loved her (“The Gays love Timi Yuro and Timi Yuro loves the gays”) and just, despite losing her voice and ability to perform, was happy with life. I dunno if you’ve had a chance to read her interview in this book, Ladies of Soul.

      I read it probably 7 or so years after I learned of her, and you know she became one of the people I wish I got to see when she was still performing, but live with the legend of her voice.

  2. Why doesnt anyone ever mention the fact that Timi Yuro was gay. I remember the lady she dated and that lady now ownes a gay bar in South bend Indiana

  3. John

    She was one of the trio of my favorite female artists that succombed to cancer and passed too early. The others: Mary Wells and Dusty Springfield.

    One of my all-time favorites by anyone – was Insult to Injury:

    Haunting and filled with emotion. The melody and words tell it all. Great voice. Superb orchestration. Outstanding backup group. Excellent arrangement. She recorded others which were treasures.

    Don’t make many like this any more. Insult to Injury was from my senior year in high school . . 1963. The best year from the mini-era when music was at its peak – the early 60’s.

    • Steve

      Yes Timi Yuro was a great favorite and a personal friend I met her back in the late 70’s in South Bend Indiana she became lovers with Gloria another great friend Glo as we called her owned a bar so the relationship with the two of them was short lived none the less she was and still my all time favorite Im not quite sure how many lanes she put out but I have 6 of them. I listen to her all the time she did the song permanently lonely in tribute to Gloria. LOVE LOVE HER R.I.P. My friend.

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