In the late 1940s, Annette Warren recorded a song my grandmother wrote called "I Love the Rain." My father added a brief introduction on a recording he played for my siblings and me as children. "'I Love the Rain' by Rose Efron, sung by Annette Warren," my Dad's voice announced before the vintage melody began.
As I unpacked from a recent family move, I stumbled across this beloved recording. I decided to play it again for old times sake. The lyrics, "I love the rain, it makes me think of you. And when I do I'm never blue" brought back such wonderful memories of a time gone by and loved ones who are now with me only in spirit.
My father always told me how famous Warren was, but I never really knew exactly who she was. Even though it was 3:00 AM, I decided to do a quick Google search on her name. What I found filled me with excitement and possibility.
Annette Warren (born July 11, 1922) is a popular jazz and song stylist best known for her vocal dubbing of such stars as Ava Gardner in the 1951 version of Show Boat and Lucille Ball in both Fancy Pants and Sorrowful Jones.
She headlined clubs and theaters in New York, London and across the U.S., plus featured in films and appeared on The Tonight Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Liberace Show, and The Summer Chevy Show.
She was married for 55 years to jazz musician Paul Smith, with whom she also occasionally performed.
At the end of her Wikipedia bio was a sentence I never expected to read:
In January 2016, Warren sang at the La Cicada Club in Los Angeles.
Warren was not only alive, but still performing. "Wouldn't it be amazing to get Annette Warren to re-record my grandmother's song in 2016?" I thought.
After a short Internet search, I was able to find a mention of a promoter working with her. I contacted the woman via LinkedIn with my story and requested to get in contact with Warren. The next day I was informed that Warren had my contact details and would be in touch. I was grateful beyond belief, but knew it was still a long shot whether I would receive a call.
Two days later my phone rang. "Hello," I said. "Is Louis Efron there?" an elegant female voice asked. "This is Louis Efron," I confirmed. "This is Annette Warren."
I felt as though I had been bolted back in time with an adrenaline rush of emotions. Composing myself, I said, "Thank you so much for calling me, Ms. Warren. It is an honor to speak to you."
"Call me Annette, that is my name," Warren said powerfully, but softly. She then asked me how she could help me. I told her my story and asked if she would be willing to re-record my grandmother's song. She admitted she did not remember the song as she had sung thousands over her career. Despite this, she said without hesitation, "Honey, of course I will re-record your grandmother's song." She refused my offer to pay her for her work.
Annette agreed to look through her music library for my grandmother's song. From that point on we remained in contact via phone and email. She arranged for pianist, Bob Remstein and sound engineer, Mike Post to re-record "I Love the Rain" at the recording studio in her California home.
About three weeks later, I received a 2016 version of "I Love the Rain" originally sung by Warren in the 40's. A few weeks after that I received an invitation to her new one woman show I Ain't Done Yet on April 24 at the historic Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, CA. This will certainly be a performance and meeting I will never forget.
Knowing Warren's passion for her career reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, "If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life." At nearly 94, she is still loving life and living her purpose.
I know my father and grandmother are looking down from the heavens and smiling. "I like to think of you and never be blue. That's why I LOVE THE RAIN."