American Routes on Public Radio International is celebrating Summertime, both the season and song.  My favorite is still Janis Joplin.  Didn't know The Zombies had a version.  My favorite song the first hour - Watermelon Man.  Anyone else listen this week?  Favorites?
My Summa Licks playlist features Summertime by Louis & Ella, The Honey Wilders, Laura Biagini, Lou Adler & Peter Gabriel, Lambert Hendricks & Ross, Keith Emerson, Courtney Pine,  An American Underdog and the modern tune by Kenny Chesney (country goes powerpop.)
Favorites are Summer's Here-Jenna Mammina (JT cover) and I Live For The Sun-Jeffery Foskett.
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The most recorded song of all time with over 6,000 recorded versions!  
Many great versions, but for perspective’s sake, the way Gershwin himself originally intended it:


The tune is clearly Blues-based in tonality, so having an opera singer perform it, thereby draining it of all its bluesiness, is nothing I personally want to hear. No doubt others will disagree. 

Simply offered for comparison's sake, here are three versions by Jazz singers: 

Billie Holiday:



I think you miss the point. Clearly a great tune can be performed in different styles. However, I think there is value in understanding that the tune was composed for an opera, Porgy and Bess and meant to be performed in an operatic style by an operatic singer, not a jazz singer. If you understand the history of the work and its place in music and culture of the time it might make more sense to you. Btw, that “place in music and culture” is the reason why the work is controversial today. That was the reason for posting that version….for perspective’s sake. Personally, knowing where the tune is coming from adds a great deal to appreciating renditions in other styles.

I have always liked the posted versions very much. Here is a favorite:


Sorry for not having doing a very good job of expressing myself. 

In retrospect, I suppose what I was trying to express was my uneasiness about Gerswin's motivation for utilizing the Blues/Jazz as source material for composition and then placing the result within a European Classical frame. Did he do this (consciously or unconsciously) in order to "legitimize" it, on some level? To make it more commercially viable for white audiences? I haven't read his bio, so I don't know. 

To my ears, it's a very jarring transition.

I realize not everyone has the same tastes and that I wouldn't be asking this question if I felt the song was somehow inadequate unless performed operatically. 

The Mahalia Jackson version is lovely, BTW...

Apparently, according to American Routes, Duke Ellington was not a fan either.  Though he did make a version of it.
It's simply a solid melody that allows for a wide variety of interpretations.

Prince doing a soundcheck giving it what I imagine a bit more funk than I believe Gershwin could have ever brought to the table ;)