On the long list of favorable reviews gathered on her website, SUSANNAH MCCORKLE included this one: "'She sings in tune.'--her dentist, New York City." This was pure Susannah, looking for the joke behind the self-seriousness, the pin in the balloon of pretension. Years before she was a performer, she was a writer (one early piece of fiction was included in Prize Stories 1975: The O. Henry Awards), and becoming a singer was, she once told me, merely the result of "thinking it was a really cool thing to do." Few of us will ever chase a dream so fruitfully. But Susannah, her sweet nature nicely balanced by an irresistible determination, worked and worked at it, and by the time her skills had caught up with her matchless taste, she had become one of the finest singers in captivity.
Her essence comes across most viscerally on the great Antonio Carlos Jobim song Waters of March, which she sang in her own translation from the Portuguese (one of her five or six languages). Her version, so intimate with the song's poetry that it even became a hit in Jobim's Brazil, contains at the core of its large-hearted refrain a line that reads, "It's the promise of spring, it's the end of despair, it's the joy in your heart." How I wish she had been singing it last weekend.
--By Daniel Okrent