Born in 1939, the Newark (NJ) native was a
genuine child prodigy as a pianist and singer,
garnering appearances at the famed Apollo
Theater and on television’s "Spotlight On Harlem"
and "The Star Time Kids," sharing stages with the
likes of Louis Jordan, Sarah Vaughan and Dinah
Washington, before he turned 18. He then
formed a vocal trio alongside his sisters Salome
and Geraldine and embarked for Europe; Andy
& The Bey Sisters were celebrated regulars at
The Blue Note in Paris and other venues in
Europe from the late 1950s into the early
1960s, when they returned to the U.S. and
continued to perform and record (for RCA
and Prestige) until the trio disbanded in 1966.
For the two decades thereafter, Bey recorded and performed with such notables as McCoy Tyner, Lonnie Liston Smith, Thad Jones / Mel Lewis, Eddie Harris and others. He was featured vocalist on Gary Bartz’ acclaimed Harlem Bush Music projects and for an extended period with Horace Silver, including Silver’s The United States of Mind album sequence. In 1991, Bey returned to Europe to teach vocal instruction in Austria; he remained there until 1993, when he returned to the States to record his "comeback album," accompanied only by his own piano, called Ballads, Blues & Bey.
One of the great unsung heroes of jazz singing, Andy Bey is a commanding interpreter of lyrics who has a wide vocal range and a big, rich, full voice. Bey enjoys a following that swears by him; nonetheless, he isn't nearly as well known as he should be.
The release of Ballads, Blues & Bey in 1996, and his subsequent Shades of Bey, recorded with Bartz, Victor Lewis, Peter Washington and other jazz notables and released in 1998, heralded Bey’s "renaissance" in the business he’s been in for nearly five decades. Which leaves Bey somewhat bemused: "I never went away, actually. I don’t know about this "renaissance." It’s…well, it’s new in a sense, but it’s not like I left the business."