Anita Darian, a Singer With an Eclectic Range, Dies at 87

A City Center regular, Ms. Darian performed Natalie in Strauss’s “Die Fledermaus” and Pitti-Sing in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Mikado” there in 1959, and played Julie in “Show Boat” in 1961. She also played Lady Thiang in several different City Center productions of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I.” Ms. Darian was a session singer and stage performer when she was asked by the producers Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore and the songwriter George David Weiss to provide backing vocals for “The Lion Sleeps Tonight,” which Mr. Weiss had adapted from a South African song. Her soaring, high-pitched vocal provided a counterpoint to the lead vocals and the harmonized lower-register “wimowehs,” and the record spent three weeks atop the Billboard pop chart.

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VIDEO: Anita Darian, a voice that all of us have heard singing the music of our lives, sings "Love Look Away" from the Broadway production of "Flower Drum Song." She was doing the role on Broadway, and this was a live TV appearance that was found in some amazing archives.

Next VIDEO (AUDIO ONLY)... Here is The Tokens hit, The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Opera singer Anita Darian was brought in for the soprano during and after the sax solo. Her voice almost sounds like an instrument on the record.