KWiniarski

Judy vs. Deanna

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I really enjoyed seeing this clip of these two again. I think MGM kept Judy because she was a cute kid with a huge range in her voice. It was obvious that she would be good for musicals and she still looked like a kid so they would be able to use her that way. Even at a young age, it was obvious that Deanna was going to look like a leading lady, but she wasn't as good of a singer, in my opinion. Judy was gorgeous as she grew up too, but at this age, she would make a great addition to Mickey Rooney's movies. She fit the style of MGM.

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When an artist was signed under the old studio system, they spent a fortune working with them on everything from dance, singing and elocution lessons to creating a unique, marketable image.  Judy Garland was marketable - a cute and incredibly talented kid who performed popular music with great style.  Deana was less marketable for MGM.  They already had both a young superstar in Garland and two established operatic stars in Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald.  They probably didn't see a niche for Deana that would be profitable for them.

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I think MGM must have felt that Judy fit in better with the direction that they wanted to take their musicals and obviously they were right because I can’t see Deanna in any of the roles that Judy played. I think I have only been able to see one Deanna Durbin movie.

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For both Deana and Judy, they both had great talents, both in singing and in acting.  Deana had great control of her singing in a classic way, and Judy had a style in her singing that a majority of listeners could relate more to.  

I'm not really sure why MGM had Judy, and Deana worked the other studio, but for whatever the reason, it turned out fantastically for both studios mentioned.

They are and for ever will be two of a kind in the history of musicals.

Thanks for the memories!!!!!

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I guess I really never thought about the different studios and what they wanted to represent tot their audiences before.  Judy seemed to sing in a more contemporary style.  Deanna was more of an opera sounding vocalist and Shirley Temple was  a very cute little girl who was multi-talented (my grandpa always cried at her movies!).  

Arent we fortunate to have so many options depending on what you want to watch as far as musicals go?

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Universal was always a more conservative studio especially when under Carl Laemmle Sr. as studio head. Under Carl Jr's management Universal did modernize and began to produce musicals, King of Jazz, Showboat (1929) and Broadway with mixed but mostly positive reviews. The extravagant remake of Showboat (1936) proved to be their undoing despite its success. Even after the takeover by Standard Capital who recalled the loan they'd made to Universal to produce the remake the Studio remained much more cautious than its competitors.

So Durbin once her contract expired at MGM was their obvious choice over Garland. Durbin's screen presence was more refined and conservative over the bubbly, modern, every girl persona of Judy Garland. Durbin proved to be a godsend for Universal, saving it from future financial disaster. And MGM proved to be theatrical gold for Garland. MGM was well-known for its extravagant spending, over the top production numbers and innovation. With Garland as its number one musical star they produced some of the grandest and memorable musicals of the late 30s and 40s. 

So both women were successful with Durbin unfortunately growing disillusioned and retiring in her late 20s. But Garland as we all know went on to a stratospheric level of stardom matching the heights of her unimaginable talent.

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I think Judy had a versatility that crossed race and gender barriers, and MGM was interested in a broad range of musicals. Judy could scat, belt, and go low like Louis Armstrong. She sang white, she sang black, she sang femme, she sang Lothario. As Robert Osborne used to say, she really "performed" her songs. She could morph into anybody, and I think she naturally appealed to the people in charge at MGM.

Deanna simply sang. Very talented but without nearly the dimensions of Judy. Universal made Deanna one type of star. MGM could place Judy anywhere.

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I always love these music type competitions you see in some of the musicals.  Swing versus classical.  It appears in several Judy Garland musicals.  It just made things fun.  Plus you go to great voices for the price of one!

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I can't listen to Deanna for more than a few songs, but Judy can spellbind me by her voice and manner endlessly. Judy had that certain "something"    

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There is just no comparison. Judy Garland is a great artist--vocally and dramatically. Her voice is distinctive and she can cross so many musical lines. Even as a child, she could conjure sorrow and soul as well as humor and rebel spirit. I don't think that the studio every quite caught up with what she could do, but audiences knew. Deanna Durbin was lovely and had a pretty voice but she never surprises or touches me.  She does fit a studio agenda that wants the "class" of opera without the complications and often darkness that the art form provides in full-length works. 

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As much as I love musicals, I don't remember ever seeing this clip or seeing a musical with Deanna Durbin.  I know her name, but not her work.  Just from seeing this clip, it's understandable that MGM would find Judy Garland to have a much wider range.  I'll have to try to watch a Deanna Durbin film, but she does remind me a lot of Jeanette MacDonald.

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I think Judy had more versatility - she could sing swing, ballads, or whatever you put in front of her.  I also think she appealed more to the younger audience with her ability to sing snappier tunes.  Deanna seemed to sing more of the operatic types of songs that remind me a bit of an updated Jeanette MacDonald.  Judy also seemed to have a more expressive emotional range with her facial expressions and acting, to go along with the emotion she expresses in her singing.  Deanna was talented, to be sure, but I think that Judy appealed to a wider audience and that the younger generation of movie goers could more identify with her.

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Why would MGM let Deanna Durban go, and why did universal capitalize on her appeal and make her a big star? 

    Was it not though that “Every Sunday” by MGM was made as a public screen test for Judy And Deanna but it came out later that Deanna had already been dropped by MGM and was signed by Universal.  I have always been such a big fan of Durbin and I’m fairly sure I was either told this or read it. It seemed all so set up with MGM so that she would still be able to work for them for a period of time. And personally I thought that clip we watched showcased Judy and not Deanna.  I wish I could recall the details. Either way both Garland and Durbin were fabulous. 

*Why was Shirley Temple the big money maker at Gox? 

I think it’s pretty obvious. She was very needed at the time due to the depression. This adorable curly haired, singing dancing girl to brighten America’s dark days. I know President Roosevelt helped by saying “ As long as our country has Shirley Temple, we will be all right”. I nearly remembered the complete quote as I live not two miles from President Roosevelt ‘s home in Hyde Park, NY. So I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from he and his Wife Eleanor’s home and library. But I did have to look it up to make sure I had it correct, I’m not that smart. ? Anyway I’m sure all this combined helped promote her. 

 

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This clip was in That’ Entertainment. Judy could could sing, act and really dance! Judy was also one of the best criers in movie history. I couldn’t imagine Deanna Durbin with Mickey Rooney in all of those movies. Can you imagine anyone else as Dorothy? The studio wanted Shirley Temple. Judy was a super star!

 

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While Deanna Durbin undoubtedly has a beautiful coloratura voice, such a voice is limited in its vocal stylings.  Whereas, Judy Garland's voice, not as classically trained in the operatic way as Deanna, lends itself to more music genres.  In an era where studios groomed their talent, I think MGM chose to spend their time and money on Judy who not only could deliver in versatility but also run the gamut of emotions in her musical phrasing and expression.

Possibly, MGM did not want to compete with itself by keeping both Judy and Deanna?  Universal's musicals. in retrospect, were more in tune (pun intended) to the singing style of Ms. Durbin.

As a former performer in dinner theaters, opera companies and regional acting groups, my voice lends itself more to the stylings of Deanna Durbin though I can sing Garland repertoire and enjoy Judy so much more. But as a teenager I longed to sing the songs of my contemporaries late '60's, 70's, 80's but could not situate my voice to such.  I think the same with Deanna.  Judy's songs are more singable to the general public. 

In regards to Shirley Temple, well known to single-handedly have saved Fox from financial ruin, there was no way they were going to let her go.  Timing is everything. Children have always been a symbol of hope, babies a sign of rebirth that life goes on.  During the time of depression, Shirley represented that glimmer of hope.  Her childhood innocence along with her eternal optimism is what a glooming and economically hurting America needed.  Highly recommend reading her autobiography, "A Child Star."  No child star back then or to this day has achieved the triple crown talent (acting, singing, dancing) nor reached the level of status, nor endured the love and respect of an entire world as Shirley Temple.

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5 hours ago, OldMovies4Me said:

Deanna Durbin and Jeannette McDonald -- their singing not really my thing.

Add in Katherine Grayson to that duo for me. They all have lovely voices but I guess my taste is more, "low brow" and snappy...lol

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The story I heard is that the reason MGM kept Judy and not Deanna is because there was a miscommunication when Louis B. Mayer said " lose the fat one". I hope that's just Hollywood lore, poor girls. 

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1 hour ago, Smulvihi said:

The story I heard is that the reason MGM kept Judy and not Deanna is because there was a miscommunication when Louis B. Mayer said " lose the fat one". I hope that's just Hollywood lore, poor girls. 

I have heard that also.  If the accounts I've heard of Mayer are true, I would believe he could say something like that.

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Posted this on the course for MAD ABOUT MUSICALS in the "Discussions" tab: Random, but … One of the topics mentioned this week was the contrast between Deanna Durbin and Judy Garland, and "Why would MGM let Deanna Durbin go, and why did Universal capitalize on her appeal and make her a big star?" (6/5 - The Stars of the Early Movie Musical (1920s-1930s))The only thought I had however, was what if Deanna and Judy had teamed up early on as they did in EVERY SUNDAY (1936) for MGM in musicals, showcasing their contrast styles. Modern and Classical combined. In a film series, or in a Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland, Jack Carson/Dennis Morgan, going on the make multiple films together as a screen duo in a TWO GIRLS AND A SAILOR-esque way? Don't know why it's never come to me before in such a way, but thought it would've been an interesting avenue to explore.

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On ‎6‎/‎5‎/‎2018 at 3:03 PM, Cakane said:

Why would MGM let Deanna Durban go, and why did universal capitalize on her appeal and make her a big star? 

    Was it not though that “Every Sunday” by MGM was made as a public screen test for Judy And Deanna but it came out later that Deanna had already been dropped by MGM and was signed by Universal.  I have always been such a big fan of Durbin and I’m fairly sure I was either told this or read it. It seemed all so set up with MGM so that she would still be able to work for them for a period of time. And personally I thought that clip we watched showcased Judy and not Deanna.  I wish I could recall the details. Either way both Garland and Durbin were fabulous.

 

Hi Cakane:

Deanna was signed by MGM to a six month contract in November 1935.  Louis B. Mayer was out of town when she auditioned for the studio, but his associates were so blown away by her audition that they called Mayer and had her sing to him over the telephone. Mayer immediately ordered Deanna be signed to a contract, sight unseen.

Deanna's contract with MGM expired at the end of May 1936 and she was released by the studio. Whether this was an accident (someone mistakenly allowed her contract to lapse) or she was formally released remains unclear, but she was immediately signed by Universal, most likely because Rufus LeMaire newly signed by Universal as a casting director after having been at MGM, brought Deanna and Judy to the attention of Joe Pasternak and Henry Koster, then looking for a young teen singer to play the youngest sister in their proposed film, THREE SMART GIRLS.

There is a blurb in THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER (I think) dated June 1, 1936 that announces that Universal has changed "Edna Mae Durbin's" first name to "Diana," and around the same time, there's a photo in the LOS ANGELES TIMES of Deanna an "ten year-old Joan Brodeur (Leslie)" smiling at each other while a court ratifies their contracts with their respective studios: Deanna (Universal) and Joan (MGM).

EVERY SUNDAY did not begin filming until late June/early July 1936, but there was a clause in Deanna's MGM contract that allowed Metro to call on her services for up to 90 days following its' cancellation, providing she wasn't working at a project at another studio.  Since THREE SMART GIRLS wasn't schedule to begin filming until September, Deanna found herself back at MGM making the short with Judy.

Since Judy was by then re-signed to a long-term contract by MGM, the plot of EVERY SUNDAY understandably favors her over Deanna, as Deanna was, by that time, under contract to a rival studio.

Ironically, by the time EVERY SUNDAY was released to theaters in late 1936/early 1937, Deanna, having created an instant and enduring sensation on radio as a member of Eddie Cantor's TEXACO TOWN show, and earning unanimous raves for previews of THREE SMART GIRLS, often received more commentary/publicity from the press when ES was shown than Judy did (though the talents of both girls were always warmly commented upon.)

Hope this helps

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11 hours ago, markus21 said:

Hi Cakane:

Deanna was signed by MGM to a six month contract in November 1935.  Louis B. Mayer was out of town when she auditioned for the studio, but his associates were so blown away by her audition that they called Mayer and had her sing to him over the telephone. Mayer immediately ordered Deanna be signed to a contract, sight unseen.

Deanna's contract with MGM expired at the end of May 1936 and she was released by the studio. Whether this was an accident (someone mistakenly allowed her contract to lapse) or she was formally released remains unclear, but she was immediately signed by Universal, most likely because Rufus LeMaire newly signed by Universal as a casting director after having been at MGM, brought Deanna and Judy to the attention of Joe Pasternak and Henry Koster, then looking for a young teen singer to play the youngest sister in their proposed film, THREE SMART GIRLS.

There is a blurb in THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER (I think) dated June 1, 1936 that announces that Universal has changed "Edna Mae Durbin's" first name to "Diana," and around the same time, there's a photo in the LOS ANGELES TIMES of Deanna an "ten year-old Joan Brodeur (Leslie)" smiling at each other while a court ratifies their contracts with their respective studios: Deanna (Universal) and Joan (MGM).

EVERY SUNDAY did not begin filming until late June/early July 1936, but there was a clause in Deanna's MGM contract that allowed Metro to call on her services for up to 90 days following its' cancellation, providing she wasn't working at a project at another studio.  Since THREE SMART GIRLS wasn't schedule to begin filming until September, Deanna found herself back at MGM making the short with Judy.

Since Judy was by then re-signed to a long-term contract by MGM, the plot of EVERY SUNDAY understandably favors her over Deanna, as Deanna was, by that time, under contract to a rival studio.

Ironically, by the time EVERY SUNDAY was released to theaters in late 1936/early 1937, Deanna, having created an instant and enduring sensation on radio as a member of Eddie Cantor's TEXACO TOWN show, and earning unanimous raves for previews of THREE SMART GIRLS, often received more commentary/publicity from the press when ES was shown than Judy did (though the talents of both girls were always warmly commented upon.)

Hope this helps

Thank you so much. Yes this answers so many of my questions. 

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I have seen that clip before and often thought that Deanna had a beautifully and trained opera style voice. Judah was more modern and probably more relatable to the general audience. MGM always had a motive for everything they did and they probably Judy Garland would sell better to the everyday person. Her voice is so memorable. As to anyone playing Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz would have placed the movie in a very different place in history. Shirley Temple while adorable as a young child didn’t quite have the same appeal as a young adult. I grew up watching Shirley Temple and loved the movies but looking back at them now she doesn’t have the same appeal. I can watch the Wizard of Oz and have the same enjoyment as I did when a child.

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12 hours ago, Cakane said:

Thank you so much. Yes this answers so many of my questions. 

You're welcome:

I forgot to add that, obviously, Rufus LeMaire didn't show EVERY SUNDAY to Pasternak and Koster when they were looking for a young singer for THREE SMART GIRLS, as EVERY SUNDAY hadn't yet been filmed.

Rather, he apparently showed them parts of an Exhibitor's Reel short featuring the two girls. According to Pasternak's memoir, LeMaire first showed them a singing/acting clip featuring Judy.  Pasternak and Koster were delighted by Judy and excited at the prospect of signing her, only to be told by LeMaire that Judy was the girl Metro had elected to keep.

Dejected, Pasternak initially had no interest in seeing Deanna's clip saying "There can't be two girls like that. Not in the same generation."  LeMaire persisted, and Pasternak ultimately relented.  Although Deanna's clip was only a singing test, Pasternak and Koster were stunned, not only by the quality and purity of Deanna's voice, but the ease, naturalness and confidence with which she sang, her prettiness, and her extraordinary star quality. Since it was only a singing test, Koster initially expressed some concern over whether Deanna could act, but quickly dismissed it saying: "Sign her. She's wonderful. I'll teach her to act."

After confirming that Deanna was still available to be signed, she was immediately signed to appear in THREE SMART GIRLS. Aware of how devastated Deanna was to be dropped by MGM, LeMaire saw to it that her contract with Universal contained a clause stating that the studio couldn't drop her until she had appeared in at least one feature film.

 

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As a big fan of both Deanna and Judy, I've enjoyed reading these comments on their talents and careers, though I must say, I disagree with many of them, and, as Deanna generally seems to be getting "the fuzzy end of the lollipop" in most of these comments, I hope my fellow posters won't mind if I play "Devil's Advocate" in offering an alternate perspective on some of the issues raised when comparing Deanna and Judy:

ON UNIVERSAL'S SIGNING DEANNA BECAUSE HER "CLASSICAL" STYLE FIT THEIR MUSICALS BETTER THAN JUDY'S "POP" STYLINGS:  I disagree with this. Universal signed simply because of Rufus LeMaire's enthusiasm and as the most cost-efficient way of getting THREE SMART GIRLS produced and, thereby, getting rid of the suit-happy Joe Pasternak and a whole gaggle of contract players they wanted to jettison as a means of recouping the studio's huge financial losses. The fact that Deanna was a classically trained soprno had nothing to do with it. Had Pasternak and LeMaire wanted to sign Judy, the studio would have done so for the same reasons as they did Deanna.

What changed the studio's mind was Deanna's exceptional work during the first few days' shooting of THREE SMART GIRLS, in which both her star quality and singing/acting talent were so obvious that Universal was willing to take the risk of upgrading the budget of THREE SMART GIRLS from a "B" film to a (modest)"A," spotlighting Deanna. The enormous worldwide critical an popular success of THREE SMART GIRLS (and the contemporaneous sensation she made and continued to make on radio), encouraged Universal to continue the Pasternak-Durbin-Koster combination and film format, in which Deanna was almost always, without exception, not only the only singer in her films, but the only major musical presence, period, as well as the central character from which all the other characters in her films took their cues.

I find it remarkable (and unique among Hollywood musical performers of that era) that Deanna Durbin, who stood out among her child star/performing peers as perhaps the only major star who didn't come from an extensive performing background was able to prosper in that "solo star" format for years. As Professor Ament said in her introductory comments to THREE SMART GIRLS: "The only reason THREE SMART GIRLS is considered a musical is because Deanna Durbin sings in it."  The truly remarkable thing to consider is that one could say that about almost any of Deanna's 21 starring feature films.  I'm open to suggestions, but offhand I can't think of a single major musical star of the 1930s/40s, child or adult/ "classical" or "popular"/male or female, whose films spotlighted them as the singular musical presence to the degree that Deanna's consistently did.

JUDY HAD WIDER APPEAL AMONG AUDIENCES OF DIFFERENT AGES/CULTURES, ETC.:  No dis intended on Judy, whose remarkable one-of-a-kind talent and deserved later iconic status as one of the major singer/performers of the 20th century speak for themselves, but during their contemporaneous tenures as contractees to Universal and MGM, Deanna's worldwide popular appeal with audiences of all ages and cultures far outstripped Judy's. For example, Judy's fan clubs were entirely MGM studio generated, whereas Deana created such a hit that her fan clubs began spontaneously and were later absorbed by Universal.

Outside the U.S., Deanna was a hugely popular and much beloved star in Europe, Asia South America and Russia.  For example, she was the Number One female box office star in Britain (England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales), replacing previous favorite Jeanette MacDonald.  The affection of British audiences was such that in 1942, a major movie theatre chain ran a week-long "Deanna Durbin Film Festival" in which her films were shown exclusively, a feat that has never been repeated for any other star.

Deanna was the Number One U.S. Box Office Star in Italy in the late 1930s an early 1940s, so much so that, in 1941, Italian Dictator Benito Mussolini wrote an open letter to her in his peronal newspaper, IL POPOLO, in essence begging her to act as a role model for American Youth in rejecting President Roosevelt's efforts to bring the U.S. into the "European Conflict."';

Deanna was the Number One box office star in Japan in the years immediately before, during and after World War II, and, as in Russia and other countries, the ruling elite was often upset that audiences flocked to the Durbin films rather than the propaganda films the ruling regimes were foisting on them. Not surprisingly, her 1943 film HIS BUTLER'S SISTER was chosen by Douglas MacArthur the head of the American Occupational Forces,pa as the first American film to be shown in Japan after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Retitled PRELUDE TO SPRING, it played to packed audiences, despite admission prices that were three times higher than other films.

A more touching example of Deanna's popularity was found in the scrapbooks taken from captured and killed Japanese pilots.  These scrapbooks naturally contained pictures of families, but many of them had special sections devoted to Deanna, and only Deanna. She was the only American film star so honored.

In France, Deanna's 1941 film IT STARTED WITH EVE, was chosen as the first American film to be shown in Paris after the liberation of the city. Riots broke out from audiences scrambling to get in to see the film and police had to be called to quell them.

A NEW YORK TIMES article on Spain from 1943 states that "Deanna Durbin is the most popular U.S. star."

Small wonder then, that one of the major pieces of propaganda circulated by the Axis powers as a means of demoralizing Allied POWs and soldiers, was that "Deanna Durbin had died" (a particularly tragic death). A TIME magazine article ca. 1945, noted that one of the first questions asked by rescued American/Allied POWs was whether Deanna was still alive. The plan also had an unexpected negative impact on regular people in the Axis countries, who also loved Deanna and didn't realize that the reports were false. And no wonder that several sources, including John Kobal's GOTTA SING, GOTTA DANCE, cite Deanna's fan club as "the world's biggest" of that time.

JUDY HAD A WIDER MUSICAL RANGE/MORE VOCAL VERSATILITY THAN DEANNA:  Again, while I agree that Judy was a wonderfully versatile, one-of-a-kind "pop" vocalist, I disagree that she was more versatile than Deanna.  As David Shipman said Deanna "could sing anything within a range from Opera to Swing."  As jazz icon Mel Torme stated in his book, MY SINGING TEACHERS: "[Deanna] Durbin was phenomenal. Possessed of a glorious operatic voice, she could and did sing anything put in front of her to perfection." While many may prefer Judy's "pop" singing to Deanna's, Deanna could do a fine job on a "pop" song, while Judy, for all her musical brilliance as a singer/actress had neither the training nor the number of notes in her throat to sing Opera and much classical music.

Finally (for now), though it doesn't specifically relate to Deanna or her career, I disagree with whoever said that Universal was a more "conservative" studio, musically that favored "classical music" over "popular." While Universal's musical efforts couldn't compare to the best of MGM's output, during the 1940s, Universal had more young musical talent under contract than any studio, including MGM, and much of that talent (e.g., Donald O'Connor, Peggy Ryan, Grace McDonald, Jane Frazee, the Andrews Sisters, the Merry Macs, etc.) were "pop"/"jazz" talents.

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

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