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Retro Redux: The Mystery Of Karen Chandler

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One of the things I enjoy most about digging into music history is the way the process sometimes leads me into unexplored territory. The latest example occurred while I was putting together a recent piece about pop star Mel Carter and ran across another singer, a mysterious lady who'd also had a best-selling record of Mel's big hit, "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me," but a dozen years earlier.

At that time the singer was known as Karen Chandler, but she had performed earlier in her career as Eve Young, and was actually born Eva Nadauld. Although her birth date is unknown, she was a native of Idaho who attended Brigham Young University, which might have helped her pick her first stage name. In any case, by the time she made her first documented professional appearance — singing with Benny Goodman's band on a 1946 radio show — Miss Nadauld was calling herself Eve Young.

Over the next several years Eve Young continued to make a name for herself, first by making more appearances with Goodman and later by working her way into early TV, gaining spots on variety shows like Musical Merry-Go-Round. She also managed to land a recording contract, which led to several successful records, among them "For You, for Me, for Evermore," and "Cuanto la Gusta." At some point along the way she'd also married arranger Jack Pleis, although the date is uncertain.

By 1950, Eve Young's recording contract had expired and she was beginning to cool off a little, but she still continued to show up in key spots from time to time. One of her best was a spotlighted turn on TV's Martin and Lewis Colgate Comedy Hour. (You can see her in the video below if you wait out Jerry's long introduction).

In 1952 Eve Young decided to completely reinvent herself. She lightened her hair, changed her name to Karen Chandler, and managed to land a new recording contract. Her debut recording for Coral Records, "Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me" (clip), rose up the charts into the Top Ten and became her biggest seller. It was followed by other solid successes like "Goodbye Charlie, Goodbye," and "Why?", but overall her record sales began to slip.

Trying something a little different, in 1956 she teamed up with country singer Jimmy Wakely on "Tonight You Belong to Me," and the record did well but things pretty much wound down after that. Although she did attempt a brief comeback a few years later, by the late 1960s her career was over and she had disappeared from view.

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  • Phil Cohen

    Nice article!!