I was born in New York City, the youngest of three children, and educated in N.Y.C. and at Bennington (Vermont) where I studied literature and dance and graduated with a B.A. My father was a lawyer, but he loved to sing and had a beautiful tenor voice that could move me with his storytelling. My musical education began with the study of classical piano at the age of seven (with my aunt, May Harrow), continued through college years (with pianist Claude Frank) but was abandoned shortly after that. Many years later when I wanted to learn how to accompany myself, I studied harmony and improvisation with Sanford Gold and later with Norman Gold.
While I was at college I thought I would be a dancer. I toured with the Bennington Dance Group, choreographed dances to jazz scores, and was bitten by the performing bug. I majored in literature and at graduation was encouraged to accept a fellowship at Harvard and become an academic. But instead I worked as an editor in a publishing house (William Morrow & Co.) until I left to become a singer. I learned to sing jazz from records and later from sitting in at clubs where musicians I knew were playing. During those years, I was editing by day, and at night I sat in with Kenny Burrell, Bob Brookmeyer, Clark Terry, and Bill Triglia at clubs in and around New York. I also got a job touring (briefly) with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra, at that time under the direction of Warren Covington.